Five Medals for Canada at the Saguenay Short Track Speed Skating World Cup

Canadian skaters were very strong in the 500m at the 3rd stop of the Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Saguenay, where they captured four of the six medals available. Charles Hamelin (Lévis, QC) added to the harvest with a silver in the 1500m.

On the men’s side, François-Louis Tremblay (Alma, QC) and Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) once again managed to finish first and second, just like they had done at the first stop of the World Cup, in China. They went strong, taking the lead from the start and never giving a chance to Korean Ho-Suk Lee and Chinese Ze Hu to pass them even if they tried many times over.

“I’m happy with the way things went in the 500m, especially after being disqualified from the 1000m yesterday,” explained Tremblay after his race. “I’ve been skating strongly in the 500m,” continued the skater who won all of the races in the distance on the World Cup circuit this season. Jeffrey Scholten (Montreal, QC), the third Canadian skater who had qualified yesterday, was disqualified in the B final.

Charles Hamelin raced for silver in the 1500m, finishing just after Korean Hyun-Kon Kim and before Ye Li, of China. The powerful Hyun-Soo Ahn, of Korea, finished fourth. It was the second time only that Hamelin was beating Ahn in a race.

The women from Canada skated very well today and managed to win their first individual medals in a World Cup this season. Kalyna Roberge (Saint-Étienne de Lauzon, QC), who had won gold in every distance at the National Team Selections in Calgary, was the strongest, finishing 2nd in the 500m. She crossed the finish line only twelve hundredths of a second after the queen of the distance, Chinese Meng Wang.

Roberge’s teammate Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was right behind her and she took the bronze. “I wasn’t expecting anything, but I thought it could happen”, jubilated Gregg after her race. “I was more excited than nervous, because it was already so wonderful for me to be part of this final! I had nothing to lose,” continued the 18 year old, all smiles after a great racing day. It was a first international senior competition for Gregg, who has two bronze (2004 and 2005) in the 500m from the World Junior Championships.

Annick Plamondon (Longueuil, QC) took a hit in a semi-final that had to be started five times and from which one skater got disqualified. The blade of her skate shifted and that made the race harder for her, who had to settle with the 2nd position of the B final. The skater, who was skating in an international event for the first time, was still very happy with her result.

In the 1500m, it appeared for a moment that Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) might be able to get a spot on the podium, but the three Korean skaters leading the way made it impossible for her to pass and kept her in fourth. It was an all Korean podium, with Sun-Yu Jin, Eun-Ju Jung and Chun-Sa Byun. The results were more than satisfying for Blondin, also competing in her first international senior competition.

Ivanie Blondin was the only Canadian skater in the final. Amanda Overland (Montreal, QC) and Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) would have had to finish first and second of seven skaters in their heat of the repechage in the morning to qualify, which did not happen.

The last races of the day were the relay semi-finals, and the women were once again very strong. Kalyna Roberge, Amanda Overland, Ivanie Blondin and Jessica Gregg finished 2nd of their heat to qualify for tomorrow’s final.

The men team was less lucky, and it was disqualified after a contact with a Chinese skater. There will therefore be no relay racing for Canadian men tomorrow.

On the ice Sunday in the last day of competition in Saguenay, Anne Maltais will be in the 500m repechage in the morning. Later in the day, her teammates Ivanie Blondin and Jessica Gregg will be of the quarter finals on that distance. In the 1000m, the three skaters from Canada (Overland, Roberge and Plamondon) qualified yesterday. The women’s relay squad will also be in the final.

Marc-André Monette (Montréal, QC) will skate in the quarter finals of the 1000m, while Hamelin, Scholten and Michael Gilday, a young skater from the North West Territories, will be of the 500m quarter finals.