Short-track bronze for Anouk Leblanc-Boucher in women’s 500 m

Canada won its fourth medal of these Olympics today when Anouk Leblanc-Boucher took the bronze in the women's 500-metre short-track final at the Palavela arena.

Leblanc-Boucher just got her skate blade across the finish line ahead of China's Tianya Fu, who was eventually disqualified for contact earlier in the race.

China's Meng Wang won the gold in a time of 44.345 seconds with the silver going to Bulgaria's Evgenia Radanova (44.374). Leblanc-Boucher's time was 44.759.

"I am in a dream," the 21-year-old from Prevost, Que, said, adding that though this is her first Olympics, winning a medal was the objective.

"Wang was very strong," she said of her opponents. "The race was almost a fight between men. I had to fight a lot. My thoughts were that I didn't panic."

Leblanc-Boucher, a student at the University of Quebec, Montreal, broke her right ankle in training in 2001 and had a screw inserted. But she’s come on strong of late and was ranked fifth in the World Cup standings in the 500 heading into Turin.

Better known Canadian skaters failed to make the finals, but Leblanc-Boucher was the one on the podium when it was finished.

This is her first Olympic Games and only her second year on the Canadian senior short track team.

Leblanc-Boucher's thoughts will now turn toward Saturday's 1,500 metres and the 3,000-metre relay next Wednesday.

Kalyna Roberge of St. Etienne de Lauzon, Que., won the B final after finishing third in her semi. The 19-year-old Olympic rookie jumped to an early lead and it became a two-woman race against Italy's Marta Capurso after Allison Baver of the U.S. and Czech Katerina Novotna collided. Roberge wound up fourth overall.

Earlier, Abbotsford, B.C.'s Alanna Kraus was eliminated in her quarter-final when she ran into trouble early and couldn't make up ground, finishing third.

"I got off to a good start, but I got got cut off at the first block," the 29-year-old said.

Also last night, Canada's powerful 5,000 metre relay easily qualified for the final on Feb. 25. Led by veteran Eric Bedard, who helped Canada win gold in both 1998 in Nagano and 2002 in Salt Lake City, the foursome finished first in their 45-lap semi-final in a time of six minutes, 57.004 seconds, four seconds ahead of the Koreans who also qualified for the final despite a spill early in the race. Korea has won three of the four competitions held this season and finished second to Canada in the other.

In the other semi, the U.S., China and Italy advanced to the final.

Bedard also moved on in the men's 1,000 metres, as did teammate Francois-Louis Tremblay. Each won their heats.

China's Ye Li set a new Olympic record in the event with a time of 1:27.048, breaking Canada's Mathieu Turcotte's mark of 1:27.185 set in 2002.

Source files from Sun Media & Toronto Star