Great Day for Canadian Skaters at the Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Montreal

Canadian speed skaters did well today for their first day of competition at the fourth stop of the ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Montreal.

François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC), Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC), Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC), Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC), Amanda Overland (Montréal, QC), Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) and Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) all skated through the preliminaries successfully in the two distances in which they were competing, and they will go straight to the quarter finals on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Canadian female skaters built on their success from last weekend (3 individual medals and a bronze in the relay). Overland, Blondin and Maltais, the three athletes skating in the second 1500m, had no problem making it to the next round and they will be on the ice for the quarter finals Sunday afternoon.

In the other 1500m, the one for tomorrow, Blondin and Annik Plamondon (Longueuil, QC) also qualified for the quarter finals, but rookie Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was disqualified from her heat and she will not be able to race in that distance tomorrow.

Canadian women also impressed in the 1000m, and Roberge, Maltais and Overland all made it to the next round. Overland was third in her heat, but since it was a fast one, her time allowed her to be of the quarter finals.

In the 500m, Kalyna Roberge and Jessica Gregg came strong after winning silver and bronze last weekend, and they qualified for the quarter finals. Plamondon wasn’t quite lucky, and she fell in her last race. She will need to go through the repechage Sunday morning in order to keep racing for a medal.

The Canadian male team had a better first day than they had in Saguenay. No skater was disqualified, and even if four of them need to skate in the repechage in order to have a chance to stand on the podium, they still all have a shot at it.

The 1500m seemed to be the toughest for Canada, as four athletes were unable to qualify directly for the next round: Michael Gilday of the Northwest Territories (twice), Jeffrey Scholten (Montréal, QC) and Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) will all have to go past the repechage.

Marc-André Monette almost had to do that as well. Because of a mistake, his heat did an extra lap, and Monette, who was second after 1500m, was passed by French skater Maxime Chataignier right before the finish lane. He never saw Chataignier come. Because they skated one too many lap, Monette was also advanced to the quarter finals.

“I’m disappointed in the way the 1500m went,” explained the skater after his race. “My goal was to give a fast pace to my heat and even if we were skating fast, because of the mistake, we unfortunately don’t get a time and I will not be in the best position for the quarter finals. I’m still happy to be able to race both days this time,” finished Monette, who was disqualified from one of his races last weekend. François-Louis Tremblay didn’t have trouble qualifying for the next round.

In the 500m and 1000m, however, the Canadian men’s team had no weakness. Jean, Tremblay and Charles Hamelin all dominated their 500m heats in order to qualify for Sunday’s quarter finals. Hamelin, Monette and Scholten did the same in the 1000m and Canada will be well represented in that distance Saturday.

Tomorrow, eleven Canadian skaters will be on the ice in Montreal. Michael Gilday and Olivier Jean will be the first to show what they can do as they skate in the 1500m repechage in order to qualify for the afternoon races.

Starting at 2pm, the Montreal spectators will be able to see the rest of the team race. On the men’s side, François-Louis Tremblay will be in the 1500m while Marc-André Monette, Jeffrey Scholten and Charles Hamelin will skate the 1000m. Annik Plamondon and Ivanie Blondin will try to win a medal in the 1500m for women, and Amanda Overland, Kalyna Roberge and Anne Maltais will do the same in the 1000m.