Canada wins two relay bronze at short track speed skating World Cup

Canada won bronze medals in the men’s and women’s relays on Sunday to conclude the first stop on the short track speed skating World Cup circuit.

The Canadians, icing the Olympic team for this winter’s Games in Turin, finished the opening event on the circuit with three bronze medals this weekend. The team is in the midst of some heavy training as it looks to peak for the two November World Cups in Europe at which the eight countries that compete at the Games will be determined.

In the women’s 3,000 relay, China won the gold medal in 4:14.931 with South Korea second in 4:17.292 and the Canadians third in 4:17.697. The Canadian racers were Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., Tania Vicent of Vercheres, Que., Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., and Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C.

Overland paid tribute to the strong performance by 19-year Roberge who anchored the race

‘’Kalyna skated so strong at the end,’’ said Overland, a member of last year’s world champion squad. ‘’She’s improved incredibly so much over the last year. But we’re all getting better and smarter out there. We never miss exchanges, we’re really on it. Today we stayed close to the lead almost the entire race. A great way to start the season.’’

In the men’s 5,000 relay, South Korea was the winner in 6:52.067, China second in 6:52.511 and Canada, which held the lead with five laps to go, third in 7:01.705. The Canadian racers were Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal, François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal, Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que.

‘’Our goal initially was to not get the lead to early but we quickly realized the other teams had the same strategy,’’ said Hamelin. ‘’So we were in the lead which made it tough because we are not at peak condition and we tried not to go too fast. Most of the race went well but we had trouble on a couple of exchanges at the end and we got passed.’’

In the men’s 1,000, Turcotte reached the final and was fourth while Tremblay and Eric Bedard of Ste-Thecle, Que., were eliminated in the quarterfinals for 15th and 16th respectively. Turcotte was also fifth in the men’s 3,000 and the top Canadian overall in sixth.

In the women’s 1,000, Overland and Vicent were eliminated in the quarterfinals for 10th and 11th while Kraus was ousted in the heats for 20th.

The second stop on the World Cup is next Friday to Sunday in Seoul.