More Canadian Qualifications at Montreal World Cup

Canadian short track speed skaters came back strong after a small disappointment early on during the second day of the Montreal ISU World Cup Short Track. After a disqualification of Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC), Canada’s athletes all had strong races and managed to qualify for Sunday’s 1000m and relay final rounds.

Jean was the first one to skate, in the second race of the day. He waited patiently in third place for the first 8 laps, before attempting an outside pass on a Kazakh skater immediately followed by an inside pass on German Tyson Heung, which was too tight and led to Jean’s disqualification.

François Hamelin racing the 1000m in Montreal, Photo: Simon Pichette
Brothers Charles and François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) followed suit on the Maurice-Richard Arena ice, and both dominated all three of their heats, easily qualifying for Sunday. “In the first two rounds I was staying patiently in the back, observing, waiting for the right time to pass,” explained Charles Hamelin. “Every time I step on the ice, I’m there to win, and in my last race, I didn’t take any chance, I went to the front right away and led the race to the finish.” Hamelin’s younger brother used the same strategy in his third race, leading the way from start to finish, never letting his opponents threaten his position.

On the women side, Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne de Lauzon, QC), Tania Vicent (Laval, QC) and Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) were the Canadian representatives for the 1000m. All three skaters were able to qualify for Sunday’s races. St-Gelais used the back door to qualify, finishing a close third in her last race of the day. The 6th best third skaters were able to qualify for Sunday, and St-Gelais had the 6th best time, ensuring her spot.

“My day went well, I made a mistake in my race, but it ends well. I should have tried to pass earlier instead of waiting until the end. I haven’t raced the 1000m much internationally, so I’m still learning. Now I want to come back strong on Sunday,” smiled the young St-Gelais once her qualification confirmed.

Roberge led most of her preliminary race, before Korean Cho Ha-Ri managed an outside

Kalyna Roberge qualified in the 1000m, Photo: Simon Pichette
pass with 1 ½ laps to go. The Korean skater was later disqualified, giving Robege first place. Vicent took the lead of her race with 7 laps to go, but Hungarian Bernadett Heidum passed her 2 ½ laps before the finish line. Véronique Pierron of France tried to steal the 2nd position at the finish, but Vicent held on to it.

The two Canadian relay teams – François Hamelin, Jean, Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) and François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC) for the men, and Vicent, St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) and Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) for the women – competed in the quarter-finals. It was a formality in both cases, and the home teams easily won their respective race, the men with over 3 seconds on their closest opponents from Great Britain, and the women with an impressive 4,5 second lead over the Italians.

“We’re usually neck and neck with the Italians, so it’s good to know we can do this,” said Jessica Gregg after the race. “The best part is we know we can do even better,” she continued.

Action resumes at 2pm tomorrow, at the Maurice-Richard Arena, when Roberge, Maltais, Jean and Charles Hamelin will first skate in the 1500m semi-finals, before Roberge, St-Gelais, Gregg, Jean, Tremblay and Charles Hamelin follow suit in the 500m heats.