Strong Day for Canada at Dresden Short Track World Cup

Canadian short track speed skaters once again showed the depth of their team on Day 1 of the last Short Track World Cup of the 08-09 season in Dresden. Only one women and three men will have to go through repechage rounds in hope to qualify for the final rounds of their events this weekend.

“It was a great day for our team”, explained Short Track Program Director Yves Hamelin. “We have good speed in general and athletes are very consistant despite the fact that our leaders are missing, as they are now back in Canada to prepare for the World Championships in early March.”

All Canadian women will be able to sleep on Saturday, as Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC), Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) and Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) all qualified to skate in the 500m quarter finals. Inspired by their teammates, Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC) and Marie-Ève Drolet (Saguenay, QC) went on to finish first and second of their 1500m heats to qualify for tomorrow’s semi finals. Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau, QC), skating in her second career World Cup this weekend, was disqualified for impeding when attempting a pass to get second of her race.

“Marie-Ève [Drolet] is faster than ever, she has gotten back on the World Cup Circuit very well which is very exciting for our women’s team”, continued Yves Hamelin.

Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) is the only Canadian who will have to earn a spot in the 1500m semi-finals, after he finished 3rd of his heat, only 0.016 seconds behind the second position. Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) won his heat and qualified, and Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) also qualified thanks to his second place finish.

In the 500m, François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) dominated both his races to easily qualify for the quarter finals by posting the fastest time of the day. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (Sherbrooke, QC) and Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) will also be of the quarter final races tomorrow afternoon.

All three Canadian men racing the 1000m this weekend have won medals in the distance at previous World Cups, and have qualified for the quarter finals. Hamelin once again posted the fastest time of the day in the distance. François Hamelin climbed on the third step of the podium at the Vancouver World Cup last Fall, as did Rémi Beaulieu (there were two 1000m races at the event), while Bastille won a pair of bronze medals in the 1000m at the Québec World Cup in 2008.

“François skated really well today, he was extremely fast and consistent. He posted the best times in both distances he raced, so it will be interesting to see what he does tomorrow”, said Yves Hamelin.

Lambert and Maltais will also be skating in the 1000m quarter final rounds on Sunday, but Jessica Hewitt was disqualified for impeding and will have to focus on the 500m tomorrow.

There are two 500m races this weekend in Dresden. Mendes-Campeau, Drolet and Monette all managed to qualify also for Sunday’s quarter final races. The other Canadians will however have to go through the repechage in the morning hoping to qualify for the big finals. Laurie Marceau and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix fell in their first race, while Michael Gilday was 0.007 seconds too slow in his heat and had to settle for third place. Only two men and two women will be able to qualify through the repechage.

The day ended with the relay qualifications, and both Canadian teams – Hewitt, Maltais, Lambert and Drolet for the women and Hamelin, Beaulieu, Bastille and Boisvert-Lacroix for the men – won their heat and will be of the semi-finals tomorrow.

“Our team spirit is quite high right now”, finished Yves Hamelin. “With the fast times the athletes posted today it’s looking good for the final rounds coming up.”

Competition resumes tomorrow in Dresden, with Marc-André Monette first on the ice in the 1500m repechage. His teammates will join him in the afternoon for the 500m and 1500m final rounds and the relay semi-finals.