Tremblay & Kraus earn first wins at Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials

Francois-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., and Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., earned their first victories in the fifth day of competition Tuesday night at the Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials.

In the men’s 500 final, Tremblay clocked 42.068 for the victory with Eric Bedard of Ste-Thecle, Que., second in 42.164 and Jean-Francois Monette of Ste-Therese, Que., third in the five-man final in 42.264.

“I’ve been really consistent throughout the competition and I was due to get a victory,” said Tremblay, who has finished in the top-three in every race so far at the trials. “With five guys in the final you want to stay up front because there’s more potential for falls.”

In the women’s 500, Kraus overcame a near fall with two laps to go to win in 45.153 with Melanie Gagnon of Montreal second in 45.250 and Nita Avrith of Quebec third in 45.353.

“I was a little bit anxious to get the win but overall I’ve been pleased with my showing so far,” said Kraus, in her eighth season on the national team. “I think the difference tonight was that I was more aggressive. When I nearly fell I just told myself I wasn’t going to let up. I have to keep that going for the rest of the competition.”

The trials run until Sunday September 11 and determine the five men and five women named to the short track Olympic team for the Games this February in Turin. The 16 men and 16 women contest each Olympic distance (500, 1,000 and 1,500) three times at the trials. The top skater overall at each distance gets an automatic selection to the team while the other selections are based on the overall standings from the entire meet.

With his win, Tremblay grabs the overall lead in the men’ standings with 3,964 points and is also first in the 500 standings. Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., stands second overall at 3,621, Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal is third at 2,738, Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., fourth at 2,562, Bedard fifth at 2,538 and Steve Robillard of Montreal sixth at 1,620. Each win is worth 1,000 points, second place 816 and so on.

In the women’s overall standings, Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., remains first at 3,374 with Kraus now second at 3,164 but first in the 500 standings. Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., is third overall at 3,011, Tania Vicent of Montreal fourth at 2,998, Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal fifth at 2,812 and Gagnon sixth at 1,910.

Competition continues Wednesday with the second men’s and women’s 1,000 metres.