Canadians parade to medal podium at short track speed skating worlds

Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., won the gold medal in the men’s 3,000 metres then helped Canada to victory in the men’s 5,000-metre relay on Sunday to conclude the world championships in short track speed skating.

The Canadians enjoyed their best day in a long season which got underway back on September 1, with six medal performances and two skaters in the top-three overall standings.

In the men’s relay, the Canadians got some revenge of South Korea which beat them at the Olympics in February earning the victory in 6:49.282. The Koreans crossd the finish line first but were disqualified for cross tracking. The Canadian skaters were Hamelin, François-Louis Tremblay and Jonathan Guilmette, both of Montreal, and Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que.

‘’We tried a new strategy and it worked like a charm,’’ said Tremblay. ‘’The strategy was for me to anchor the race well rested. When the final laps came, the Koreans were surprised at my speed and they panicked and cross tracked all over the place. There’s no doubt in my mind if they hadn’t cross tracked we would have hit the finish line first.’’

China was second in 6:50.332 and the U.S., third in 6:51.703.

The Canadian men entered the relay on a high after Hamelin and Tremblay finished 1-2 in the men’s 3,000 clocking 5:28.105 and 5:29.188 respectively. Hamelin also took bronze in the 1,000 metres for three medals on the day.

In the women’s 3,000 relay, China took the title in 4:17.194 edging the Canadians in second at 4:17.335 with Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., and Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont. Italy was third and South Korea fourth.

Roberge added a bronze in the women’s 1,000 and was also fourth in the 3,000. She earned bronze in the 500 on Saturday.

In the men’s overall standings, Hyun-Soo Ahn of South Korea took the crown for the fourth straight year with 68 points. His compatriot Ho-Suk Lee was second at 60, Tremblay, the 500 winner on Saturday, fourth at 55 and Hamelin fourth at 47.

In the women’s overall standings, 17-year-old Sun-Yu Kin of South Korea placed first with 102 points, Meng Wang of China was second at 91 and Roberge third at 34.

Roberge, a 19-year-old national team rookie, was named the junior female of the year at the Canadian Sport Awards on Friday.

The 2005-2006 season started back on September 1 with the Olympic team trials followed by a four-stop World Cup series in October and November, the Olympics in February at which the short trackers won four medals and the team worlds and individual worlds over the past two weekends.

‘’Actually we started training for the trials on May 1 so we’ve been on-ice for 11 straight months,’’ said Tremblay. ‘’I think I may spend the next month in bed. But it’s a huge relief to have the pressure off. And with the day we had today, we’re really going to enjoy our break. We raced hard right until the end.’’