Mathieu Turcotte & Amanda Overland assure Olympic nominations at Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials

Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., and Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., assured themselves nominations to the Olympic team by placing first in the 1,500-metre standings to conclude day seven at the Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials.

In the men’s 1,500, Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., won the third and final race at the distance at these trials clocking two minutes and 11.628 seconds. Steve Robillard of Montreal was second at 2:11.698 and Turcotte was third at 2:11.713.

In the 1,500 standings for the trials, Turcotte finishes first with 2,149 points to assure an automatic nomination on Sunday evening when the nominees are officially announced after the final race. He was second in the first 1,500 last Thursday and won the second 1,500 on Monday.

“I’m super happy, it’s a big load off my shoulders,” said Turcotte, a double medallist at the 2002 Olympics and also on the 1998 team. “I came into this race after a couple of rough outings in the last 500 and 1,000 races (on Tuesday and Wednesday), and approached this one with a lot more calm.”

Hamelin earned his second victory of the competition and is comfortably third in the important overall standings for the entire competition.

“I really needed a strong result tonight to solidify my chances to make the team,” said Hamelin. “I’ve been pretty much satisfied with my showing at the trials but I did have some tough breaks earlier this week. That can happen over such a long competition.”

In the women’s 1,500, Overland timed her first victory of the competition perfectly clocking 2:24.261. Tania Vicent of Vercheres, Que., was second in 2:24.912 and Melanie Gagnon of Montreal third at 2:24.961.

Overland also places first in the 1,500 standings and assures herself a nomination. She was second in the previous 1,500 on Monday and fourth in the first one last Thursday.

“It feels great” said Overland, whose brother Kevin and her sister Cindy were Olympians in long track speed skating. “These were very tough trials and right now I feel relief and satisfaction. I didn’t have a great start to the competition and I was pretty upset about it. Little things weren’t going right.”

The trials which started on September 1, determine the five men and five women named to the short track Olympic team for the Games this February in Turin. The 16 men and 16 women 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.

The men’s overall standings has tightened in the crucial fifth to seventh positions. Francois-Louis Tremblay of Montreal still leads with 5,145 points, Turcotte is second at 4,497, Hamelin third at 3,656, Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal fourth at 3,457, Eric Bedard of Ste-Thecle, Que., fifth at 2,994, Steve Robillard of Montreal sixth at 2,589 and Quebec’s Mathieu Giroux seventh at 2,404.

In the women’s overall standings, Vicent leads at 4,543 points, Overland is second at 4,406, Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., third at 3,969, Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal fourth at 3,809, Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., is fifth at 3,374 and Gagnon sixth at 2,674.

Roberge suffered a leg injury earlier this week and is likely out for the competition. She didn’t race Wednesday’s 1,000 nor Friday’s 1,500.

The second to last day of the trials is on Saturday with the men’s and women’s 500.