St-Gelais Earns First Canadian Title; Hamelin Earns His Eighth

The final day of the Canadian Open Championships in Montreal were hotly contested Sunday, where national titles as well berths on the national team heading to the next World Cups were at stake.

At the top of the overall classification after four individual races, Charles Hamelin (Sainte Julie, QC) and Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) were rewarded with Canadian Championship titles. Though Hamelin is surely used to this position as he held it seven times since 2004 - this is the first national title for St-Gelais, who battled with Marie-Eve Drolet (Laterrière, QC) for the honour.

“I’m really proud of myself, this is my first title, so I’m very happy. My goal was to finish top two, you can take nothing for granted, but I did believe in myself,” explained St-Gelais.

After each winning a race, Drolet (National Champion in the 1500m event) and St-Gelais (who won the 500m on Saturday) were neck-and-neck at the top of the rankings prior to Sunday’s racing.

In the 1000m final, St-Gelais’ time of 1:29.231, bettered Drolet’s time of 1:29.379. “I was strong in the 1000m and I skated really well during the 500m event yesterday (Saturday) so I’m really happy, I didn’t think I would be that strong,” commented the Quebec native who was unsure that she had fully recovered from her last week of training. “We had a huge training week prior to the Canadian Opens - it was quite demanding; we did a lot of weight training so I expected my body to be somewhat tired, but in the end, even with the stress, everything went well.”

In the 3000m, Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montreal, QC) was the fastest across the line, followed (in order) by St-Gelais and Drolet. St-Gelais also won the intermediate sprint during the ninth lap, enabling her to earn 74 bonus points.

In the final classifications, St-Gelais scored 3298 points to defeat Drolet, who earned 2965 points. Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) took third place with 1662 points, followed by Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) who skated to 1559 points, Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (1480 points), and rounding out the top six was Caroline Truchon (Chicoutimi, QC) with 1397 points.

Charles Hamelin – A Weekend of Consistency

After having won the 1500m event on Friday, Charles Hamelin took third place in Saturday’s 500m event. “I knew that by doing the final I would still get some points, so I was less stressed about today’s events,” commented the Quebecois skater, who wanted to ensure his presence at the starting line of the 3000m race, and so gave his all to win the 1000m event. The double gold medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games essentially led throughout the race – save lap seven, when Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) passed him. Hamelin regained control of the race quickly after, and kept his lead until the finish line. “I knew what I had to do, and everything went really well today. Once I won the 1000m event, I felt like nothing could stop me!” Jean had to settle for second, while Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) finished in third place.

Charles Hamelin also won the intermediate sprints in the 3000m event and ended up in second place behind Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC); Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) took third place.

“Honestly, I had a great weekend, it all went super well and I was able to control my performance for the entire competition; I was again able to skate to the best of my abilities,” he concluded.

Charles Hamelin’s consistency this weekend enabled him to gain 3148 points – finishing ahead of his brother François who earned 2266 points. Olivier Jean (1902 points), Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Québec, QC came fourth with 1721 points, in fifth was Michael Gilday (1472 points) and Rémi Beaulieu came sixth with 1444 points.

The official list of skaters participating in the World Championships and final World Cups will be announced this week.