Two bronze medals for Canada at short track speed skating World Cup opener

HARBIN, China – Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal showed they are both completely recovered from off-season injuries each winning a bronze medal on Saturday at the opening stop on the short track speed skating World Cup circuit.

In the men’s 1,500 final, Si-Bak Sun led South Korea to a 1-2 finish clocking 2:14.487 with Seung-Hoon Lee second in 2:14.705. Hamelin, second overall at the world championships last year, took the bronze in 2:14.723.

‘’My semifinal didn’t go all that well so I was a little apprehensive about the final,’’ said Hamelin, who felt no effects from a summer training camp injury. ‘’As soon as the final started I was more relaxed and it went well. I stayed in the top-three most of the race and it came down to the finish for the silver. I’m happy with how I did.’’

Mathieu Giroux of Montreal was second in the B final for ninth overall. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, Que., was eliminated in the quarterfinals for 13th place.

It was another 1-2 Korean finish in the men’s 1,000 with world champion Hyun-Soo Ahn taking the gold in 1:28.383, Ho-Suk Lee second in 1:28.554 and Tremblay, a double Olympic silver medallist in 2006, third in 1:28.680. Steve Robillard of Montreal also reached the final and was fifth in 1:29.436.

Last month Tremblay suffered a deep cut to his ankle in training. He said it was bothering him up until two weeks ago but since then he feels in top form.

‘’To reach the final at the first World Cup is a great way to start the season’’ said Tremblay who fell in his semifinal race after being interfered with and received a bye to the final. ‘’I always expect to win a medal at every event but today it was very welcomed after such a tough semifinal. The final was definitely a Canada-Korea battle and Steve had a great race with some great passing. That created a lot of traffic and I used that situation to my advantage.’’

Marc-André Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., was eliminated in the quarterfinals for 12th.

In the women’s 1,500, Ha-Ri Cho led South Korea to a 1-2 finish clocking 2:21.089 with Sae-Bom Shin second in 2:21.109. Yang Zhou of China was third in 2:21.117 and Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., fourth in 2:21.194.

‘’With three Koreans in the final I tried my best to save my energy for the finish,’’ said Roberge, 21, third overall at last year’s worlds. ‘’If I had tried to pass them they would have had an advantage on me. I was very pleased with my performance. The training I did this summer was very beneficial. I don’t think I’ve been as strong to start a season. I’ve really improved tactically and technically over last year as well.’’

Anne Maltais of Quebec City was eliminated in the semifinals for 18th overall and Jessica Gregg of Edmonton was ousted in the repechage for 21st.

In the women’s 1,000, Meng Wang of China was the winner in 1:30.924 with Eun-Ju Jung of South Korea second in 1:31.919 and her compatriot Sun-Yu Jin third in 1:30.911.

Tania Vicent of Vercheres, Que., was second in the B final for sixth overall while Amanda Overland of Montreal was eliminated in the quarterfinals for 10th place.

Canada was second in both the men’s and women’s relay semifinals to advance to the finals. The women racers, with Roberge, Vicent, Overland Andrea Do-Duc of Montreal, overcame a fall to advance. Racing for the men were Hamelin, Tremblay, Monette and Giroux.

Competition ends Sunday.