Bell Short Track Team Selection concludes with the 1000m race

Today’s 1000m race put an end to the Bell Short Track Team Selection event that has been taking place at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver since August 9th. Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) and Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) won the finals, but those results do not have much of an impact on the nominations that will be made for Canada’s short track Olympic team.

With four spots already confirmed on the women’s team – Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) qualified in the 1000m and 1500m, Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) and Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) in the 500m and Tania Vicent (Laval, QC) because of her cumulative result in the 500m and 1000m – the fifth and last position is up to the discretion of Speed Skating Canada’s High Performance Short Track Committee.

Skaters were therefore racing the 1000m hoping to prove how strong and consistent they could be, in the hopes that the committee would give them their vote when completing the Olympic team nominations. That’s what Amanda Overland (Montreal, QC), Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC), Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC), Anne Maltais and Annik Plamondon (Longueuil, QC) had in mind when they approached the start line of the final.

Valérie Maltais started in front, followed by Overland and Drolet. Plamondon made her way to the leading position with 7 ½ laps to go, but Overland passed her right back, followed by Valérie Maltais, who then took the lead and accelerated the pace with four laps remaining in the race. Drolet tried to pass, but she fell, along with Overland and Valérie Maltais, which allowed Anne Maltais to make her way to the finish line in 1:34.847. Despite a fall in the last straight away, Plamondon took the second place (1:39.428). First back on her skates, Valérie Maltais was third, followed by Drolet and Overland.

François Hamelin focused during the 1000m. His faith now rests in the hands of the High Performance Committee. Photo: Jeff Bough

On the men side, Guillaume Bastille, yesterday’s winner in the 1500m, was in the final, along with François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC), Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) and Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC). They were all going for the win, and Bastille was the first skater out of the corner, closely followed by Beaulieu, Hamelin and Gilday. The first three kept trying to take the lead, and Gilday fell with 6 ½ laps left. Bastille was then in the lead, but Hamelin took it back, before watching Bastille pass him in the last lap and to the finish line. Bastille crossed in 1:25.832, Hamelin 1:25.884, and Beaulieu in 1:25.906.

There are only two spots up for grabs on the men’s side, with Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) who was pre-qualified to skate in all three distances at the Olympics and did not take part in the team selections, Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) who already qualified to race the 500m and 1000m and Guillaume Bastille in the 1500m. François Hamelin is ahead in the overall rankings of the 500m and 1000m as it stands, but bye-requests, including one from two time Olympic medallist François-Louis Tremblay (Montreal, QC), not fully recovered from an ankle injury, need to be evaluated before he can be granted a spot on the Olympic squad.

Speed Skating Canada’s High Performance Short Track Committee will meet over the next week and half and evaluate the bye-requests as well as determine who will be granted the discretionary positions both on the men and women side. Canada’s Short Track Olympic Team will then be officially nominated and presented to the media on August 26th, at 1pm Eastern.