Six Short Track Skaters Qualify for Fall World Cups

Victories in today’s 500m and 1000m events at the short track selections at the Calgary Olympic Oval helped Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC), Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) secure their spots on Canada’s team for the Fall World Cups. Thanks to solid performances through the weekend, they, along with Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC), Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC) and Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) will represent Canada for the Montréal and Québec World Cups on October 22-24 and 29-31, as well as for the two Asian stops of the circuit, scheduled for early December.

The day started off with the 500m, won by Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) in 44.050. She was never threatened in the final, easily cruising to the finish line, with Andréa Do-Duc (Montréal, QC) behind her in 44.144. Maltais took the third position in 44.194 and Drolet, who fell in the last corner, was fourth.

On to the 1000m, all girls wanted good races as it would determine who would make the team. St-Gelais started out front, but Lambert passed her outside in the first lap. St-Gelais was quick to get back out front, with an inside pass, and she managed to create a gap with the other skaters, crossing the finish line in 1:31.339. With six laps to go, Gabrielle Waddell tried an outside pass but collided with Lambert and fell. Lambert was later disqualified and Waddell, after getting back up, finished third. Marie-Ève Drolet was the other skater in the final, and she took the second position in 1:32.945.

Meanwhile, in the B final, Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC), Maltais and Do-Duc went all out, and all three skated under the old Canadian record held by Kalyna Roberge (1:29.870). Mendes-Campeau’s name will now be in the records book as she crossed the finish line in 1:29.132.

St-Gelais finished on top of the women’s combined ranking, thanks to three victories over four races (she sat out the 500m events due to an injury suffered earlier this week). Maltais took the second place with two second places (1500m), one first and one third (500m). Drolet takes the third spot on the World Cup team thanks to two second places in the 1000m, a third and a sixth in the 1500m.

On the men side, Charles Hamelin took the honours in the 500m. François-Louis Tremblay (Boucherville, QC) actually led most of the race, but Hamelin, who was just behind, overtook him at the finish line in 41.470. Tremblay had to settle for second place in 41.480. Allyn Gagnon was in third place all along, finishing in 41.849 and François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) took the fourth position in 42.113. Liam McFarlane (Medicine Hat, AB) fell mid-race and had to settle for fifth place.

In the 1000m, Olivier Jean knew he needed to pull off a victory in order to make the World Cup team, and he did just that. It was a tight race to the finish between him and Gilday, but Jean took the lead with five laps to go with an inside pass and managed to win in 1:24.793. Gilday crossed the finish close behind in 1:24.844, and Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) was third (1:24.968). Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) and Dustin Miller were the last two skaters in the final and they finished fourth and fifth respectively (1:25.800 and 1:26.252).

Overall, Charles Hamelin takes the first position on the World Cup team, thanks to a first and second place in the 500m and a first and third in the 1500m. While he won the first 1000m race, he sat out the second because of a small injury. Michael Gilday is second overall with a fist and third place in the 1500m, and a second and third place in the 1000m. Olivier Jean’s victory in the 1000m, combined to a fifth place in that distance yesterday, as well as a second and fourth place in the 1500m, secured the third spot. Jean is however not planning on racing the first World Cup events this Fall, as he now wants to remain in Calgary and take part in the Long Track Fall World Cup Selections next month.

Speed Skating Canada’s High Performance Short Track Committee will meet in the next week to select the other three women and four men who will have the chance to represent Canada at the four stops of the World Cup Circuit taking place this fall.