Great Canadian Medal Harvest in Québec

Québec, Febryary 3, 2008 – Canadians had a great day for the end of the fifth stop of the Short Track World Cup, adding six medals to their collection, for a total of nine over the weekend.

Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) started off with the silver in the women’s 500m race. Meng Wang was leading at great speed from start to finish, and she established a new World Record when she crossed the finish line in 43.286. Roberge also established a new record in the race, her finish time of 43.681 being faster than the 43.839 established by Alanna Kraus in 2005. Chinese skater Nannan Zhao won bronze in that distance, just in front of Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB). Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) was ousted by 0.01 seconds in quarter final and she had to settle for 9th.

“I’m happy to have established this Canadian record, but it’s not a World record”, said Roberge. “The next step is a World record!”

The second final of the day was showcasing Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC), already a bronze medalist in the 1500m yesterday. Hamelin skated hard in an eventful final, but the Korean skater Yoon-Gy Kwak took the gold, Hamelin just behind and British Jon Eley in third despite an explosive start. Hamelin’s younger brother, François, was 9th after a disqualification for impeding in semi-final, and Jean-François Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) was 18th.

In the 1000m, the men stood out, Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) and Guillaume Bastille getting silver and bronze. Zhiqiang Zhang of China won gold in front of the two Canadians. Steve Robillard (Montreal, QC) settled for 15th after being eliminated in quarter final.

“Of course I wanted to make a final, but what I really wanted this weekend was to have fun, and to make sure the crowd did too”, explained Monette. And that’s exactly what he did, making sure to wave to the crowd every time he stepped on the ice and asking them to make more noise. “I often come back strong in the 1000m. I had great races today, I was alert, which is what was missing yesterday. Today, following my coaches’ advice, I was making sure not to leave space for another skater to pass after I managed to pass someone.”

On the women side, no Canadian skater made it past the quarter finals, and Amanda Overland (Montreal, QC) was 13th, Tania Vicent (Laval, QC) 14th and Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) 23rd.

Both relay teams added medals to the Canadian harvest, silver for the women and bronze for the men. The women’s team actually smashed a six-years old Canadian record with this race they completed in 4:12.443. The old record of 4:15.738 had been established at the Olympic Games in 2002.

“In the relay, I’m really happy that we were able to follow the Koreans and the Chinese, which doesn’t happen very often to us!” said Roberge.

The Canadian Team heads to Salt Lake City tomorrow, to take part in the sixth and last stop of the World Cup Circuit. The athletes will then be back in Montreal for three weeks of training before the World Championships in March.