Marie-Ève Drolet & Charles Hamelin Become 1500m Short Track Canadian Champions

Canada’s top short track speed skaters are all in top form as they compete in the 2011 Canadian Open Championships this weekend at the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal. Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC) and Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) were the first athletes to shine, today, as they captured the Canadian titles in the 1500m.

Through the weekend, skaters will compete over 1500m, 500m, 1000m and 3000m races, earning precious points in each distance. Overall rankings at the end of the competition will help determine the athletes that will skate in the last two World Cups of the season, the World Championships as well as the FISU Games.

Drolet became the first to win a Canadian title when she finished first of the women’s 1500m final. The final, also featuring Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC), Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC). Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC), Caroline Truchon (Chicoutimi, QC) and Ann-Véronique Michaud (Amqui, QC), started slowly as skaters were trying to position themselves well without wasting their energy.

With a little over 6 laps to go, Truchon, took the lead, but St-Gelais followed just behind, taking the lead with 2 ½ laps left before the end of the race. Drolet and Hewitt went to the front shortly after, and St-Gelais was able to make her way to second place with an inside pass in the last lap, allowing Drolet to win the race in 2:30.434. St-Gelais finishes a close second (2:30.497), and Hewitt third (2:30.595). They were followed at the finish line by Truchon (2:31.216), Michaud (2:31.640) and Marceau (2:32.176) respectively.

On the men side, Charles Hamelin claimed the title in a very eventful race from start to finish. His brother François (Ste-Julie, QC) was also on the start line, as were Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC), Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) and Maxime Fortin (Rivière-du-Loup, QC).

Unlike in the women’s final, everyone wanted to be in the lead from the start. Skaters frequently switched position for many laps, before Charles Hamelin went to the front for good, thanks to an inside pass with two laps left to the race. He crossed the finish line in 2:16.808. François Hamelin, who was in the lead at that point, managed to protect his second place (2:16.862). Gilday took the third position in the last lap (2:16.961) and managed to finish ahead of Jean, fourth in 2:17.073. Bastille (2:17.202), Beaulieu (2:17.679) and Fortin (2:27.339) followed in that order.

Tomorrow, athletes will compete for the 500m titles, before racing the 1000m and 3000m on Sunday. Races will start at 1pm tomorrow at the Maurice-Richard Arena. Admission is free for the public.