Joel Mineau top Canadian at world junior short track speed skating championships

South Korea won five of the six medals on Friday to open the world junior short track speed skating championships while Joel Mineau of Longueuil, Que., was fifth in the men’s 1,500-metre final.

In the men’s 1,500, it was a Korean sweep as Seung-Hoon Lee, a triple medallist at the senior worlds last year, took the gold in 2:25.195. Jung-Su Lee was second in 2:26.642 and Jae-Han Kim third in 2:26.837. Mineau, in his international debut, reached the final and was fifth in 2:28.934.

‘’It was a pretty exciting experience for me today,’’ said Mineau, 18. ‘’I reached my goal by making at least one final this weekend but it could have gone better for me in today’s final. I went too hard on a passing attempt and with about two laps left I didn’t have any gas left in the tank.’’

World junior record holder Nicholas Bean of Ottawa was eliminated in the semifinals on a controversial disqualification for 18th overall and François Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., bowed out in the quarters for 19th place.

In the women’s 1,500, Eun-Ju Jung led South Korea to a 1-2 finish clocking 2:41.077 with Jung-Woi Choi second in 2:42.417 and Lugian Kang of China third in 2:45.354.

Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., and Jessica Gregg of Edmonton were eliminated in the semifinals for 11th and 14th overall while Andrea Do-Duc of Montreal was ousted in the quarterfinals for 20th place.

‘’The quality of the field is much superior than last year particularly the teams from Europe,’’ said Canadian national team coach Yves Hamelin of Montreal. ‘’Valerie is only 15-years-old and she really responded well to the challenges. She was feeling pretty stressed but still skated well in her qualifications and in her semifinal.’’

Canada advanced to the semifinals in both the men’s and women’s 2,000-metre relays. The Canadian women won their heat with Maltais, Do-Duc and Maltais. The men were second in their heat with Bean, Hamelin and Mineau.

Hamelin and Gregg are the only returning members from last year’s squad which won seven medals in Belgrade.

Competition continues through to Sunday.