Three top-six Canadian finishes in 1,500 finals at short track speed skating world juniors

BOLZANO, Italy – Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau of Montreal, Guillaume Blais-Dufour of Quebec City and Vincent Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que., helped Canada to three top-six finishes in Friday’s 1,500-metre finals at the short track speed skating world junior championships.

In the men’s 1,500, South Korea swept the medals with Yun-Jae Kim first in 2:25.121, Jung-Su Lee second in 2:25.247 and Han-Bin Lee third in 2:26.377.

Blais-Dufour was third heading into the final lap and took fifth in 2:27.110 and Cournoyer was sixth in 2:27.830.

‘’I was pretty bagged in the final three laps,’’ said Blais-Dufour, a World University Games team member last year. ‘’Still I was pleased with my day and it went really well. My goal coming into these championships was a top-five finish. Now I’m hopeful for a medal this weekend.’’

Cournoyer, a distant relative of Montreal Canadiens’ great Yvan Cournoyer (grandfather’s cousin), was also pleased with his performance.

‘’It was my first international competition and I didn’t know my opposition very well,’’ said Cournoyer. ‘’It was a great experience. The Koreans were very impressive.’’

Maxime Fortin of Riviere-du-Loup, Que., was eliminated in the semifinals for 13th overall.

In the women’s 1,500, Koreans were 1-2 with Ah-Reum Noh earning the gold in 2:29.565 and Eu-Byul Lee second in 2:29.867. Qichao Zhang of China was third in 2:31.178. Mendes-Campeau took fifth spot in 2:32.163.

‘’I’m very satisfied with my performance,’’ said Mendes-Campeau. ‘’It was a very slow race at the start and I tried to stay up front as much as possible. I kept myself in contention throughout the race. The Koreans and Chinese skaters are tough to follow and you have to be very vigilant when they are behind you.’’

Valérie Lambert of Sherbrooke, Que., a member of last year’s world junior team, and Marianne St-Gelais of St-Félicien, Que., were eliminated in the semis for 11th and 12th respectively.

The Canadian team was determined at last month’s junior nationals in Ottawa with Blais-Dufour and Mendes-Campeau earning the men’s and women’s overall titles.

Canada advanced to the semifinals in both the men’s and women’s relays. The men won their heat while the women were second.

Competition continues through to Sunday.