Charle Cournoyer wins bronze in men's 500m short track
Canadian earns his 1st Olympic medal
Canadian short track speed skater Charle Cournoyer won bronze in the men's 500-metre final Friday at the Sochi Olympics.
Russia's Victor An won gold in a time of 41.312 seconds. Wu Dajing of China finished second in 41.516, and Cournoyer took the bronze at 41.617.
Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., who looked at ease throughout the quarter-final and semifinal heats, continued his strong skating in the final. He got off to a good start, falling in behind Wu for second place.
An eventually over took him. When China's Liang Wenhao crashed in the last half of the race, Cournoyer was assured of an Olympic medal.
"I came in here to have as much fun as possible," he said after the race. "I was expecting to be good but the bronze medal? It was a fog for me. I was just racing, doing what I know.
"The atmosphere was really great, with Victor An winning the gold medal. It was super loud."
Cournoyer, 22, is the youngest member of Canada's men's short track team.
Olivier Jean, from Lachenaie, Que., failed to qualify for the semifinals.
There was disappointment for the Canadian team in this event.
Charles Hamelin was a gold medal threat heading into Sochi, but crashed during qualifying heats on Tuesday.
Hamelin, who won two gold medals in Vancouver including the 500 event, didn't walk away empty-handed.
The Lévis, Que., skater won the 1,500 competition last week, bringing his Olympic medal total to four. Hamelin also fell during the 1,000 event.
"I can't be unhappy," Hamelin said. "I have a gold medal around my neck for the 1500m. I worked hard for four years to improve that distance. The rest of it for me was bad luck."
Russians win relay
It was a banner day for the Russian men.
The team captured the men's 5,000 relay event, and set an Olympic record with a time of 6:42.1.
An teamed up with Semen Elistratov, Vladimir Grigorev and Rusian Zakharov to win the chaotic 45-lap team event in front of a rowdy crowd at the Iceberg Skating Palace less than an hour after he won the individual 500m gold.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, An became a Russian citizen in 2011.
The U.S. quest for its first men's relay gold fell short, but still managed to win silver in 6:42.371. China finished third at 6:48.341.
This has been a terrific Olympics for An. With his two gold medals won Friday, the 28-year-old veteran brings his Sochi total to three gold and one bronze. (He also won the men's 1,000m.)
An has now won eight Olympic medals, tying Apolo Ohno, of the U.S., for the most medals won by a short track speed skater.
The Canadians, who won gold at the Vancouver Olympics four years ago, failed to qualify for the final last week after skater François Hamelin lost an edge and crashed into the boards around the halfway mark.
Canada did win the B final on Friday.
"It was just another race," Charles Hamelin admitted. "We just wanted to go out there and skate well. What's next for us is the worlds [championship in Montreal in March]. But tonight we showed that we were strong."
Canada maintains the world record in the relay. Charles and Francois Hamelin, Michael Gilday and Olivier Jean set the mark of 6:30.958 on Oct. 19, 2012 in Calgary.