Hamelin & Vicent earn first victories at Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials

Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and Tania Vicent of Montreal couldn’t have timed their first victories any better on Saturday in the 1,000-metre races at the Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials.

In the women’s 1,000, Vicent clocked 1:33.213 in the final for her first win of the competition. She edged Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., second in 1:33.242 while Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., was third in 1:33.316 and Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., fourth in 1:33.456.

“I think my experience came through tonight,” said Vicent, 29, a two-time Olympic bronze medallist. “I had a good strategy and I pretty much led the entire race. I really needed this win to get myself back into it. I wasn’t surprised to see some the youngsters do well on the first two days because I train with them everyday. The women are having more success internationally now and that’s because we have some depth.”

On Friday, Roberge, 18, won the 500 and on Thursday Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal, 20, took the 1,500.

In the men’s 1,000, Hamelin grabbed the lead with less than five laps to go and took the win in 1:25.217. Steve Robillard of Montreal was second in 1:25.388 and Francois-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., third in 1:25.521.

“My 500 and 1,500 races were below standard for me and I decided to get back to what I do best,” said Hamelin, 21, who enjoyed a breakthrough season last winter earning two medals at the world championships and three World Cup wins. “I took the lead early and gained control of the race instead of being a spectator.”

The trials run until Sunday September 11 and will determine the five men and five women named to the short track Olympic team. The 16 men and 16 women will contest each Olympic distance (500, 1,000 and 1,500) three times at the trials. The top skater overall at each distance gets an automatic selection to the team while the other selections are based on the overall standings from the entire meet.

Sunday is a rest day and action resumes Monday night with the second men’s and women’s 1,500 races.