Robillard & Vicent win opening 1,500 races at Canadian teams trials in short track speed skating

Steve Robillard and Tania Vicent, both of Montreal, won the opening 1,500-metre races Friday at the Canadian team trials in short track speed skating.

In the women’s 1,500 final, Vicent was first in 2:22.457 less than a second off the Canadian record. Amanda Overland of Cambridge, Ont., took second in 2:22.484 and Chantale Sévigny of Sherbrooke, Que., third in 2:22.820. Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., was fourth and Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal fifth.

"I was expecting a very fast race," said Vicent, a bronze medallist last month in the 500 at a World Cup event in China. "The girls are in really great shape right now and the ice is extremely fast here. Plus the trials are usually fast because everyone wants to make the team."

A recent three million dollar upgrade to the Olympic Oval completed this past summer is providing optimum ice conditions for training and competition for both the long track and short track speed skaters.

The top-five overall this weekend gain a spot on Canada’s team for the World Cups in Madison, Wisconsin next weekend and Saguenay, Que., in two weeks.

In the men’s 1,500 final, Robillard took the gold in 2:13.691 with Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, second in 2:17.087 and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., third in 2:14.169. Mathieu Giroux of Montreal was fourth and Francois-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., fifth.

"I was a bit surprised to do this well because I really struggled at the World Cups (held last month in China)," said Robillard, 20, who competes in in-line skating marathons during the summer. "I guess that was my wake-up call. I’m better prepared for this competition."

Competition continues through to Sunday.