Charles Hamelin wins short track gold in Italy
Canada’s Olivier Jean earns bronze medal
Canada’s Charles Hamelin continued his mastery in the men’s 500 metres after winning the World Cup short track event Saturday in Turin, Italy.
Hamelin, of Levis, Que., won the competition in 40.910 seconds, ahead of Russian Victory An (40.935) and countryman Olivier Jean (41.109).
But this race was no walk in the park for Hamelin as he finished ahead of An by just one skate blade. Jean was not far behind and was awarded the bronze medal for his efforts.
“It’s a nice win," said Hamelin, the defending Olympic champion in this event. "It was an exciting and fun race to skate. In the final, I played it conservatively; I wanted to maintain some energy to attack in case I was passed by the Russians or Olivier.
"Victor An passed me in the last laps but I was able to come back and take the win. This was a nice podium.
Jean was pleased with his effort despite starting in the fifth spot for the final.
"It was a solid day for me, both in my result and the way I skated, despite not having the easiest race conditions," said Jean. "It’s never easy to start fifth on the line in the 500m, but I was able to make the best of it."
Rookie Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que, ended up seventh in the B Final.
The stakes are high for this World Cup season since since these results, combined with next week’s competition in Kolomna, Russia, will determine which countries earn spots for the Sochi Olympic Games in February.
In order to earn an Olympic berth for their country, athletes must finish among the top 32 skaters in the 500m and 1,000m, and among the top 36 in the 1,500m. The top eight teams in the relay earn their tickets to Sochi.
Hamelin brothers fail to reach podium in 1,500m
In the 1,500m, South Korea's Han-Bin Lee won with a time of 2:24.363. He was followed by American John-Henry Krueger (2:24.421) and Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands (2:24.521).
Francois Hamelin (2:24.538) had his career-best result with a hard-fought fourth-place finish.
Meanwhile, Charles Hamelin's progression was blocked by Korean Jinkyu Noh, who was penalized for their resulting fall.
But Hamelin still managed a fifth-place finish.
In the B Final, Yellowknife’s Michael Gilday was penalized and placed 12th.
Hewitt has best result for Canada's women
On the women’s side, Jessica Hewitt of Kamloops, B.C., had the best result, placing eighth in the women 's 1,500m.
Valérie Maltais of La Baie, Que., followed in ninth, while Marianne St-Gelais of St-Félicien, Que, took the 36th spot after a fall in her race. Suk Hee Shim of South Korea won the event.
“It’s a bittersweet race. I am happy that I skated with confidence, but I made a mistake in the last lap. If I hadn’t made that mistake, I would have been in the final," said Hewitt.
Maltais, who takes part in Sunday's 1,000m, and the women's 3,000m relay, wasn't pleased with a error that cost her a better result.
“I’m happy with the day although not entirely satisfied," she said. "My result in the 500m put me in a better mood after the 1,500m B final where I came out too early and too fast. It was a tactical mistake that I need to improve on. Despite this disappointment, our first goal was to earn our spots, which we’ve achieved."
In the sprint event, Marianne St-Gelais took sixth place, with Maltais placing seventh. Edmonton’s Jessica Gregg, the other 500m specialist, was penalized for impeding the eventual winner of the event, China's Meng Wang, and finished 16th.