Charles Hamelin wins bronze medal at short track speed skating World Cup

Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., battled the world and Olympic champion in the men’s 1,500-metre final Friday and won the bronze medal to open the fourth stop on the short track speed skating World Cup circuit.

In the final, two-time defending world champion Hyun-Soo Ahn of South Korea took the gold in 2:25.603 with Olympic champion Apolo Anton Ohno of the U.S., second in 2:25.749. Hamelin, 20, took the lead with about five laps to go but couldn’t hold and was passed on the final lap clocking 2:26.039 for third in the six-man final.

The result continues a superb season for Hamelin, in his first full season on the national team. Recent results include the Canadian overall title last week, a first career World Cup gold in December and two national marks in November.

“Charles’ strength is his acceleration,” said Canadian national team coach Guy Thibault of Montreal. “He just explodes and usually gets a 15-20 metre lead which makes him hard to catch. Today he probably attacked a little bit too early in the final. He should have waited a little bit. With him it’s a question of gaining more experience.”

Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., and Francois-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., were eliminated in the semifinals and placed seventh and eighth respectively. Turcotte is second in the World Cup 1,500 standings, 10 points behind Anton Ohno.

In the women’s 1,500 final, the South Koreans swept the medals with Sun-Yu Jin first in 2:21.706, Yun-Mi Kang second in 2:21.728 and Eun-Kyung Choi third in 2:21.771. Canadian champion Amanda Overland of Cambridge, Ont., was fourth in 2:21.886.

“Amanda had a tough task today again the Koreans and she fought hard until the end,” said Thibault. “She managed to slip into the top-three for a bit but the Koreans right now are a notch ahead of everyone else right now. But if Amanda keeps working this hard and improving she’ll be with them soon.”

Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., and Chantale Sévigny of Sherbrooke were eliminated in the semifinals for 11th and 19th respectively.

Canada advanced to the semifinals in both the men’s and women’s relay. In the men’s 5,000 Canada won its heat with Hamelin, Tremblay, Éric Bédard of Ste-Thecle, Que., and Steve Robillard of Montreal. The women were second in their heat behind the South Koreans with Overland, Kraus, Anne Maltais of Quebec City and Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal.

Competition continues through to Sunday.