Silver medal for Hamelin at Short Track World Cup Opener

Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) kicked off the 2008-09 season in good fashion by winning a silver medal in the 1500m, today, at the first World Cup event of the season in Salt Lake City. Six of his team-mates also achieved top-10 performances.

Hamelin finished second just behind Korean rival Sung Si-Bak in the final round of the 1500m. He was the lone Canadian athlete in the final, since fellow skaters Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) was a close third in his semi-final race and Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) got disqualified in his wave for off tracking. Beaulieu went on to win the B final for 8th place overall, an excellent result for the World Cup rookie.

“The semi finals were really fast, everyone skated well so I expected a tough final”, explained Hamelin. “It was a little slower in the final, but the ice was really good today. I started up front, but with six laps to go the Korean skater passed me from the outside. I followed him, but I was thinking about too many things at the same time and there was only one lap to go when I finally try to pass him, but it was too little too late. This gives me a lot of confidence for tomorrow though, I really want to come back and win gold in the 500m.”

In the 1000m, Canada was only represented with two skaters, François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) and Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT). Both athletes made the B final by finishing third in their respective semi-finals, and finished 7th and 8th respectively.

On the women side, three junior-aged skaters were taking part in the 1500m. Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) posted the top finish of the day with an 8th place. The 18 year old athlete came just short of the A Final by crossing the line 0.016 after Korean Yang Shin-Young, finishing third in her heat. The top two were qualifying for the A final. Maltais was second of the B final, while team-mate Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC), also 18th, finished 12th overall by placing 6th in the B Final. The other Canadian skater in the distance, Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC), took 14th place.

Jessica Hewitt (Langley, BC) skated many more races than most skaters today, as she went through the repechage rounds this morning, but this did not prevent her from getting the best Canadian result in the 1000m with a 10th place. Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) followed her with 12th position, and Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB), a 500m specialist, was 14th.

“I felt lonely this morning, being the lone Canadian skater in the repechage”, said Hewitt at the end of the day. “But at the same time, it shows that Canada is really strong since almost all athletes qualify straight for the final rounds. That pushed me, it made me think that I also belonged there. It’s really exciting to be here and skate with the Koreans and all the other skaters I don’t know.”

Both relay teams were able to qualify for Sunday’s finals. Tomorrow, all Canadian skaters will be in action, starting with St-Gelais and Hewitt who will skate in the repechage of the 500m and 1500m respectively, starting at 10am. The rest of the team will join them at the Pacific Coliseum in the afternoon for the final rounds, starting at 3pm.

“My first race is normally not the best, so it’s good for me to race in the morning”, said Hewitt of having to wake up again for tomorrow’s repechage. “Plus, I’m here to learn and get more experience, so it’s good for me to race more.”