Canadian Skaters Break the Ice With Strenght at the Pavillon de la Jeunesse

Québec, February 1, 2008 – Canadian athletes will be able to sleep a little longer Saturday morning. All men were able to qualify straight to the quarter and semi final rounds in the 1000m and 1500m.

François Hamelin, Photo by Simon Pichette
In the 1000m, Jean-François Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) and François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) easily won their tickets to Saturday’s quarter finals. Monette won both his heats, while Hamelin won his first and finished second of the other one, behind Korean Yoon-Gy Kwak. Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), who’s skating in a World Cup for the first time of his carreer, won his second heat to qualify.

Canadian athletes didn’t have much more trouble qualifying for the 1500m. Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) was the first on the ice, and it was a tight race with American Apolo Anton Ohno. Ohno finished first, but he was disqualified for impeding. Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) did a great outside pass with one and a half lap to go, and to win his heat. Steve Robillard (Montréal, QC) followed his teammates, taking the lead in the fourth lap and staying in the front until the end.

“After the good races I had at the Canadian Championship, I wasn’t planning on coming here as an unknown skater,” explained young François Hamelin, who was skated in his first World Cup races today. “I knew I was able to qualify straight for the next round.” And that’s what he did easily enough, as he also won the second of his 500m heat. “I’m hoping to make the 500m final, I think it’s a objective I can meet,” added the skater.

On that distance, his older brother also did well, as usual. Jean-François Monette will however get up early on Sunday. In his second 500m heat, he was taken down in a fall with one lap to go and had to settle for third place, forcing him to go through the repechage.

Guillaume Bastille will not be able to sleep in either on Sunday, as he will be in the 1000m repechage despite two great races in the 1000m. His two teammates, Steve Robillard and Marc-André Monette, were able to qualify for the quarter final with spectacular wins in their second heats.

It was a little harder for Canadian women, and Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) will have to skate in the repechage in order to make the quarter finals in the 1000m. Tania Vicent (Laval, QC) and Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) will do the same in the 1500m. Maltais was second in her first race, but had a really tough second heat, skating against Evgenia Radanova and Seung-Hi Park, two powerful skaters from Bulgaria and Korea.

Kalyna Roberge (Québec, QC) easily went through both her 1000m races, and Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) is also going straight to the quarter finals because of her fast time. Amanda Overland (Montréal, QC) was the other Canadian skater in that distance, and she was having a strong race when she was taken down by a Polish skater, and she was advanced to the next round.

Canadian skaters showed that the 500m was still their strongest event, and all three skaters are going straight to the quarter finals. Jessica Gregg flew through both her races, and Roberge did the same in her second heat. Maltais was the other Canadian skater in that distance and she finished 2nd both times.

In the last individual distance of the weekend, the 2nd 1000m, Tania Vicent and Amanda Overland qualified for Sunday afternoon with strong races. Vicent was also facing two very tough heats, but fast times ensured she would have her place in quarter final. Valérie Lambert will have to skate in the repechage that day too.

In the relay, both Canadian teams qualified for the second final without much of a scare.

Tomorrow morning, Anne Maltais, Vicent and Lambert will be in action early in the morning to try and join their fellow Canadians in the next rounds. Other Canadian athletes will get on the ice at 2:30pm for the final rounds in the 1000m and 1500m, as well as the relay semi-finals.