Three medals for Canada at World Short Track Championships

Three medals for Canada at World Short Track Championships in Hungary
Men's relay team takes gold, women take silver and Hamelin bronze in 1000 m and overall

- Canada saved the best for the last as the men's relay team defended its title taking the gold medal on the final day of the 2012-13 short track speed skating season at the World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. The Canadian women's relay team earned a silver medal and Charles Hamelin also won bronze medals in the 1,000 metres and for overall ranking.

Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., took the overall bronze medal with 39 points. He collected points from his bronze medals in the 1,000 and 1,500 metres and a third place finish in the 3,000 metres. Skaters don't receive medals from the 3,000-metre race. Da Woon Sin of Korea was the overall world champions with 89 points and countryman Yun-Jae Kim was the silver medallist with 55 points.

Other overall top 10 finishes for Canada saw Marianne St. Gelais, of St. Félicien, Que., in fourth place, Valérie Maltais, of La Baie, Que., in ninth and Yellowknife's Michael Gilday in 10th position.

Hamelin worked with Gilday, Oliver Jean, of Lachenaie, Que., and Charle Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., to repeat as gold medallists in the last race of the day, the men's relay. The foursome finished the race behind the Korean squad, but they were penalized for interfering with Gilday and almost making him fall in a turn. That gave the Russians the silver medal and the Dutch team received bronze.

"We defended our world championship (title), and I think is the most important," said Gilday. "All the guys did a good job. We had a dismal World Cup season and we didn't execute very well throughout the whole year. But when it mattered at the world championships, we executed in the semifinal yesterday and executed in the final today. I think we earned our title.

"I went to pass him (the Korean skater) and he came across at me pretty hard," noted Gilday of the turning point in the race. In a review at the end of the relay, the referee penalized Korea for that infraction. "I thought I was by and he sort of almost body-checked me. I lost my balance, I was on my left skate for a long and went pretty low on it (but held on)."

In the women's relay, St. Gelais, Maltais, Marie-Ève Drolet, of Laterrière, Que., and Jessica Hewitt, of Kamloops, B.C., skated to silver medal in four minutes and 15.106 seconds. China won gold in 4:14.104 and Japan came in for the bronze in 4:15.680. Korea was fourth in 4:20.104. The Canadians were trailing the teams from Korea and China for most of the race, but with four laps to go a Korean skater fell.

In world championships, both Canadian teams lead in overall medals won in the relay. The women have now claimed 31 medals - 16 gold, nine silver and six bronze. The men have stood on the podium 27 times - 13 gold, 12 silver and two bronze. Individually in the relay: Maltais (0-2-2), Drolet (0-1-2), St. Gelais (0-2-1), Hewitt (0-1-2), Hamelin (5-2-0), Gilday (2-0-0), Jean (3-1-0) and Cournoyer (1-0-0).

The 28-year-old Hamelin, in his 10th consecutive world championship, made his way to the 1,000-metre final by winning each of his previous four races - preliminary, qualification heat, quarterfinal and semifinal. In the final, Hamelin was leading until the last turn when American J.R. Celski bumped the Canadian to make him fall. Celski received a yellow card and no points. Da Woon Sin of Korea was awarded the gold medal, after Celski was disqualified, and Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands received silverw.

"It's fun to be on the podium (for the 1,000 metres), but it's not the place that I wanted and not the place that I think I deserved," said Hamelin. "I was the strongest on the ice for the 1,000 today and was taken out the race in the last corner. It's not fun for me, but I have to take it like that. My third place overall for the weekend is good, but I wanted to be first."

After being penalized in her quarterfinal race, St. Gelais took a final 1,000-metre ranking of 19th. The 23-year-old won her first heat and was second in her quarterfinal race, but was penalized for impeding Yang Zhou of China in the fifth of a nine-lap race. After three distances raced (500, 1,000 and 1,500 metres), St. Gelais was ranked third overall, allowing her to take part in the super 3,000 metres. She took second place, and valuable ranking points, finishing in five minutes and 15.762 seconds. Suk Hee Shim of Korea was first in 5:15.118 and Jorien Ter Mors of the Netherlands was third in 5:16.200.

"I'm really satisfied with what we did in the relay," said St. Gelais. "It was a pretty fast race even thought the ice isn't really fast. The Korean and Chinese were fighting in front. They (Koreans) made a mistake so that's why we got the silver.

"I did a race like I can race," noted St. Gelais of the 3,000 metres. "I was in back of the pack and just waiting for the laps to go down and (then) to go on the outside at the end. It worked well and I was able to catch the fourth, the third and the second. I impressed myself again in the 3,000. I'm really proud I finished fourth overall, too."

A bronze medallist in the 1,000 metres in 2012, Maltais had to settle for 12th place this year. The 22-year-old took second place in order to advance to the quarterfinals, but then was third in her final race and eliminated.

Drolet had a final ranking of 16th. She advanced to the quarterfinals after placing second in her first heat. In her quarterfinal race with four other strong skaters, the 31-year-old finished last and did not advance.

Yellowknife's Michael Gilday claimed his second Top 10 finish of his first world championships, skating the individual distances. The 26-year-old finished fifth overall in the 1,000 metres after taking third place his semifinal race. He reached the semifinals with wins in his first two races and second place in his quarterfinal. Gilday was also fifth overall in the 1,500 metres Friday.

It was not the world championships Jean was looking for. After placing 17th in the 1,500 metres Friday and 13th in the 500 metres yesterday, the native of Lachenaie, Que., was eliminated in the first round of today's 1,000-metre race. After tripping up and catching his own blade midway through the race, the 28-year-old could not make up the distance from the leaders and finished fourth in preliminary round. He finished 42nd overall in the 1,500 metres and 22nd overall.

Over the next three weeks Speed Skating Canada's short track high performance committee will finalize the season rankings and evaluate bye requests to invite the top skaters to join the national and development teams for the 2013-14 season. The teams will return to training for next season in early April, with the first competition being the Olympic selections in Montreal from Wednesday, Aug. 7 to Sunday, Aug. 18.