Golden Day for Canada at Short Track World Cup in Montreal

Canada captured three gold medals and two silver medals today, dominating, as it often does, 500m races. Kalyna Roberge (Ste-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) won the gold on the women’s side, and Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) did the same in the men’s race, François-Louis Tremblay (Montreal, QC) finishing right behind him for the silver. The women’s relay then added a gold and the men’s team a silver.

It looked like there could be three Canadians on the male 500m podium, since Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) was also on the starting line, but a fall took away any chance of medal for the skater, gold medallist in yesterday’s 1000m race. The three Canadians could have taken the gold: Hamelin and Tremblay already did so in World Cup races this year, and Jean had won two silver. The fourth skater in the final, Germany’s Tyson Heung, also trains out of Montreal.

“I did it, I made it to the top of the podium”, said Jean. “I wanted to win, of course. I stayed away at first, waiting for my chance. There was a lot of action in front of me and as soon as I saw the fall, I took advantage of it to make my way to the front.”

On the women’s side, Roberge was the only Canadian in the final, surrounded by Asian skaters. She also was able to wait until the right time to take control of the race and cross the finish line first. Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) finished second of the B final and Annik Plamondon (Longueuil, QC) was eliminated in the quarter final.

“I’m really happy with my performance in the 500m”, said Roberge, all smiles. “This gives me confidence. I know I only have [Meng] Wang and [Evgenia] Radanova to beat in the future [consistently].” Wang et Radanova were not skating the 500m this time, but this doesn’t take away the great performance of the St-Étienne de Lauzon skater.

In the 1500m, Koreans took it all. The women’s final had three Chinese and three Korean skaters at the start line, and Sun-Yu Jin, Eun-Ju Jung and Chun-Sa Byun allowed Korea to take the whole podium. The three Canadian skaters were in the B final, and Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) finished first. Amanda Overland (Montréal, QC) was fifth at the finish line, right in front of Anne Maltais (Québec, QC).

On the men’s side, Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) was in the final, but with three Koreans and a Chinese skater in front, he was unable to make his way to the podium and had to settle for fifth. Kyung-Taek Song, Hyun-Soo Ahn and Hyun-Kon Kim managed to get another all-Korean podium. Michael Gilday (Northwest Territories) was disqualified in the B final and his teammate Jeff Scholten (Montréal, QC) was eliminated in semi-final.

The day ended on a good note for Canada. The women’s relay was up first, and they captured gold by staying on their feet from start to finish, unlike the other three teams on the ice. While the Korean and Chinese skaters were in the front and seemed to go for gold and silver, one of the Koreans fell and brought the Chinese down with her. A few moments later, the same situation happened for the Koreans and Italians, leaving the door wide opened for Canada.

The men’s race was very close between the Koreans and the Canadians, as happened in the first two World Cups. The Asians won the battle and the host country skaters had to settle for second place.

The two world cups at home went well for Canada, who had nine medals in Saguenay last weekend and added six this weekend in Montreal. The World Cup circuit now takes a break and the last two stops of the season will be in February: skaters will visit the Netherlands from the 2nd to the 4th and Hungary from the 9th to the 11th.