Canadian Short Trackers Confirm More Olympic Positions

Canada’s short track speed skaters will be well represented next February in Vancouver, with the maximum number of athletes – 3 women and 3 men – in both the 500m and 1500m distances, as well as 3 women and at least 2 men in the 1000m. These quota positions were confirmed on day two of the Marquette ISU Short Track World Cup, as skaters were competing in the 1000m and in the relay.

After securing their positions over 500m and 1500m yesterday, Canada’s Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC), Tania Vicent (Laval, QC) and Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) once again showed strong performances, this time in the 1000m. Roberge and Vicent each won their two races, while Gregg finished second of her first heat and won the other one. They will be back on Sunday to race in eight of final rounds, but today’s results ensure good enough finishes for all three to earn berths for Canada for Vancouver 2010.

“The girls all had very strong races today,” mentioned Team Leader Yves Hamelin. “Tania was just as solid as yesterday, she led most of her races with a good pace. Kalyna was herself, taking control of the main part of her races. Jessica was always well positioned, showed great intensity in her races and responded well when people tried to pass her.”

On the men side, brothers Charles and François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) were constant in their performances. They were never threatened in their races, staying in the pack for the first few laps and then taking the lead each time and crossing the finish first of their three respective heats. Charles, world record holder in the distance, signed once again the fastest time of the day with a 1:25.708.

In his third race of the day, Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) tried to take the lead by passing two skaters in front of him, on the inside. At the end of Jean’s pass, there was a slight contact with Chinese skater Han Jialiang, who played it dramatically, and the officials disqualified Jean.

“Olivier was having a good day, never being threatened in his races. His last heat was harder, he could have been more patient before attempting to pass. He was strong and clearly able to make the top two,” said Yves Hamelin. Jean was disqualified in the first round last week, so his combined ranking will make Canada’s third spot almost impossible to reach. We will see how global Olympic quotas will play and will confirm the outcome later this weekend.

Last night, it was confirmed that despite Guillaume Bastille’s (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) misfortune (he finished 48th in the 1500m yesterday), his 17th place finish from last week was sufficient to give him the 29th position overall, and Canada will be able to send a full team in the 1500m.

In relay action, the Hamelin brothers, Bastille and François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC) teamed up in the first round, and easily won their race in 6:50.899, well ahead of Japan (6:52.200) and France (6:52.362). They went on to win their quarter final round in 6:44.886, edging out Korea (6:45.153), once again with France and Japan seconds behind. Gregg and Vicent joined forces with Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) and Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) for their quarter final, and they finished second in 4:16.646, just behind Japan who crossed the finish line in 4:16.113. Both Canadian teams will race the semi-finals Sunday.