Seven medals for Canada on the last day of the World Championships

Seven medals for Canada on the last day of the World Championships
Maltais takes silver and Jean bronze for the overall title

SHANGHAI, China – On the last day of the 2012 ISU World Short Track Championships in Shanghai, China, Canada won five racing medals and another two for the overall title.

Valérie Maltais, of La Baie, Que., was a triple medallist today, winning the gold medal in the 3,000-metre final, bronze in the 1,000 metres and the silver medal for the overall World Championship women’s title. The 21-year-old won her first medal of the weekend in the 1,000 metres, finishing third in a time of one minutes and 31.350 seconds.

In her last individual race of the season, Maltais won her first gold medal in the 3,000-metre super final, which was raced by the top eight women from the points cumulative. She took first place in a time of four minutes and 55.408 seconds – 5.779 seconds faster than silver medalist Arianna Fontana of Italy (5:01.187).

The first and third place finishes gave Maltais 47 points, enough to move her into second place for the overall title and the silver medal. Jianrou Li of China was the overall champion with 60 points.

“Today was really my day. I felt good,” said Maltais. “I started off my day by telling myself I have all to win and nothing to lose.

“I kept the same strategy throughout the day, but trying to take the lead and staying there,” noted Maltais. “It almost worked all the way to the final, but I was passed in the last half lap. In general, I am very happy with the 1,000 metres.”

“In the 3,000 metres, once again I surprised myself,” added Maltais. “I lapped the group and in the end nobody could catch up to me.”

While Olivier Jean, of Lachenaie, Que., did not win an individual medal today in the 1,000 or 3,000 metres, he gained enough points, 52, to take the bronze medal for the men’s overall classification. Yoon-Gy Kwak of South Korea was first with 102 points. In the 1,000 metres, the 27-year-old was penalized in his second race and did not reach the quarter-finals. In the 3,000 metres, Jean won important sprint points during the race for the overall title, but slipped to a fourth place finish in a time of 4:45.673.

“I happy with my 3,000-metre race,” said Jean. “A Korean skater, Da Woon Sin, was in a position to pass me in the overall standings, so we battled for the sprint points during the race. I was successful in winning those important points.”

Jean was also pleased with the team’s success in the relay. “It was a race that we followed our game plan. We followed our coach’s (Derrick Campbell) instructions to the letter. Our plan was to be patient and then use our speed at the end of the race.”

Canada also won two individual race bronze medals, with Charles Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., placing third in the 1,000 metres and Marie-Ève Drolet of Laterrière, Que., doing the same in the 3,000-metre final.

In reaching the 1,000-metre final, Hamelin won each of his previous four races – the preliminary, heat, quarter-final and semifinal. Unfortunately, in the final Hamelin fell and was injured after contact with Qiuwen Gong of China. The 27-year-old had qualified for the 3,000-metre super final, but could not race. He also did not skate in the men’s relay final. Hamelin wrapped-up the championship in fourth place with 42 points.

Guillaume Bastille of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., was third in his 1,000-metre semifinal heat and did not qualify for the final. Bastille, 26, finished sixth in the 1,000 metres and took ninth spot in the overall ranking.

For Drolet, her individual racing ended on a high note after falling in the 1,000-metre quarter-finals. Having qualified for the 3,000 metres on points, the 30-year-old skated to her second bronze medal of the championship in a time of 5:03.387. Drolet finished the competition ranked seventh overall.

The men’s relay team won the gold medal in a time of six minutes and 42.570 seconds, beating Japan and Russia, who were second and third, respectively. Jean and Bastille were joined by Liam McFarlane of Medicine Hat, Alta., and François-Louis Tremblay of Alma, Que., in the final. Hamelin, having skated in the semifinal, also received a gold medal.

In the women’s relay, Canada fell out of contention early with a fall after the second exchange. The Canadians finished off the podium in fourth place, behind China (gold), the United States (silver) and South Korea (bronze). Maltais and Drolet were joined by Marianne St. Gelais of St. Félicien, Que., and Caroline Truchon of Chicoutimi, Que., for the relay final.

RETURN TO CANADA: Most of the Canadian team returns to Canada on Monday, arriving in Montreal on Air Canada flight 428 from Toronto at 10:13 p.m. Drolet, Jean and Truchon return to Canada at a later date.

Radio-Canada will broadcast highlights of the World Championships today from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.