Roberge & Hamelin do it again in the 1000m & become Canadian Champions

Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) and Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) had another great day at the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal and they took the Canadian Champion titles in the 1000m and overall, ensuring the chance to represent Canada at the World Championships.

“My results this weekend show that technically, I skated well, even though I missed a lot of races this Fall, so I’m really happy”, explained Roberge after her victory.

On the women side, a series of disqualification in quarter finals forced semi-finals with five and six skaters. In the end, Roberge, Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB), Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) and Marie-Ève Drolet (Saguenay, QC) were able to get a place in the final.

Drolet started first, Roberge right behind. As Roberge managed to take the lead in the second turn, Drolet lost her edge and ended up in the mats, leaving the other three racing for medals. Gregg and Roberge took turns in the lead for a few turns, until the Québec skater went back in front with four laps to go and accelerated the pace to take gold. Gregg stayed second for silver and second place overall in the Championship, and Hewitt took bronze.

“In the final, we were fighting for positions,” continued Roberge. “I knew I was with three skaters from Calgary, so I wanted a fast start to avoid being stuck behind, and it worked well.”

No surprise in the line up for the men final, which had the Hamelin brothers aligned with Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC). In semi-final, Charles Hamelin had given a very fast pace to his heat, ending up with a brand new World record, a first official one for the Ste-Julie athlete who finished the race in 1:23.43. The old record was held by teammate Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) who had skated the distance in 1:23.815 in the Fall of 2007.

“I felt good, I really wanted to go in front and lead the whole race”, explained Hamelin after his record. “I was looking at my coach when passing and he said to keep my speed, I knew it was fast, I’m really happy to have a world record! I had two of them at the trials in Calgary in the Fall of 2007, but it didn’t count.”

In the final, the pace was slow in the first few laps, where skaters were trying to get into position, then Charles Hamelin took the lead on the inside with six laps to go and accelerated. Many changes in positions followed, but Hamelin went back in front with a few laps to go, followed by his brother and Tremblay, Jean was then a bit behind. Skaters crossed the finish line in that order, the Hamelin brothers taking gold and silver just like they did at the last national team selection and at a World Cup last Fall, and Tremblay took bronze.

“I couldn’t have asked for better”, said François Hamelin after his race. “To make the final confirmed my ranking so I had no stress, but I still wanted to give everything I had.” His older brother added: “I wasn’t sure who was behind me, it all went quite fast. It’s François who told me at the end “I’m 2nd!”, I think that’s awesome!”

Charles Hamelin is crowned 2009 Canadian Champion, after his brother took the title from him last year. Tremblay was second with three points more than Jean. In the overall rankings of the two selections, Jean is second and Tremblay third. François Hamelin, with today’s medal, took 4th place and Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) is fifth.

The team that will represent Canada at the World Championships and in World Cups will be made official this week following a meeting of Speed Skating Canada’s High performance short track committee. Normally, the Hamelin brothers, Jean, Tremblay and Monette should be at the World Championships, and on the women side, Roberge, Gregg and Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) have good chances to represent Canada, but the rest of the team is to be confirmed.

Gregg, who tops the overall rankings of both selections, would be skating individual distances at the World Championships for the first time. “My objective was a top three to be able to skate individually at the World Championships, so I’m really happy and proud of my results”, explained the athlete, smiling. “We will have a great team. I was at worlds last year, and sitting in the stands during the individual distances, I just wanted to be on the ice, so I’m happy I’ll be able to do it this year!”

The first competition for Canadian athletes will be the last two World Cups of the season, planned for Bulgaria and Germany on February 6-8 and 13-15.