2007 Winter Universiade - Speed skater Maltais claims first Canadian medal

Short track speed skater Anne Maltais of Montreal claimed Canada’s first medal at the 23rd Winter Universiade when she placed third in the 500-metre event on Wednesday.

A Doctorate in Science and Technology student at Laval University in Quebec City, Maltais stopped the clock at 45.249 seconds in the final to finish just behind gold medallist Hye-Kyung Kim of Korea (44.557) and Cuijia Liu of China (44.889).

"My day started slowly, and I wasn't feeling my blades very well", said Maltais after her race. "But after two rounds, I felt better. My semi-final was my best race of the day with two passes of the Chinese skater Meng, including one at the end of a turn with the perfect timing. I'm really happy! This was my first individual medal on the international scene, so it means a lot to me. I'm very glad that my coaches and the federation trusted me this year! "

Before the four-skater final, Maltais had placed second in her four morning races (preliminaries, heats, quarters, semis). She was second to Hye-Kyung in her semi-final with a time of 45.402 and finished behind Liu in her quarter-final reaching the finish line in 45.416.

“We are all very happy for Anne,” said Canadian Chef de Mission, Don Wilson, who greeted Maltais when she made her way back to the Universiade Village. “It is nice to see Canada earn a medal in speed skating, hopefully this will open the door to more medals in the final days of the games.”

McGill University’s Nita Avrith, also of Montreal, was the only other Canadian woman to reach the quarter-final round, where she was eliminated after placing fourth in her group with a time of 46.091.

Andrea Do-Duc (Cegep du Vieux-Montreal) of Montreal and Jessica Gregg (University of Calgary) of Edmonton were stopped in the second round (heats). Both placed fourth in their group with times of 46.528 and 45.754, respectively.

In the men’s 500 metres, Mathieu Giroux of Montreal easily advanced past the first three rounds but his quest for a podium ended abruptly when he was disqualified in the semi-finals.

The University of Montreal student had finished second in his quarter-final group in 43.266 seconds after winning his second-round (43.413) and preliminary (43.302) races.

Giroux’s disqualification was the third of the day for the Canadian men, as both Richard Shoebridge of Cambridge, Ont. (University of Calgary) and Michael Gilday of Yellowknife, N.W.T. (University of Calgary) were ousted from medal contention in the same manner in the quarter-finals.

Shoebridge had won both his first two races of the day with times of 43.877 in the prelims and 43.887 in the second round.

Guillaume Blais-Dufour of Montreal (Ahuntsic College) was eliminated in the opening round.

“We were hoping for a medal in the men’s race,” said Team Leader Yves Hamelin. “We are still happy that Mathieu advanced to the semi-finals.”