by Michel Belanger
December 18, 2013, TRENTINO, Italy (ISN) – Short track speed skater Yoan Gauthier claimed Canada’s first medal of the 26th Winter Universiade on Wednesday thanks to a third-place finish in the men’s 1500-metre.
In other Canadian action on the ninth day of competition at the world university games, the women’s and men’s hockey teams qualified for the final and semifinals, respectively.
On the opening day of short track events, Gauthier, a Collège de Maisonneuve student from Rivière-du-Loup, Que., was consistent from start to finish on his way to the podium, winning his qualifying heat (2:27.185) before placing second in both his quarter-final (2:16.164) and semifinal (2:16.767).
In the final, the veteran of two junior world championships (2012, 2013) crossed the line in 2:17.742, just behind South Koreans Noh Jin-Kyu (2:16.810) and Um Cheon-Ho (2:16.852).
Noh is the world record-holder in the event (2:09.041, Shanghai, 2011) and the 2011 overall world champion, while Um set a new Universiade mark of 2:16.052 earlier on Wednesday, in the quarter-finals.
“I was a little stressed in the early goings. It was as if I had forgotten how to skate against other countries. But as the competition progressed I felt more and more comfortable,” Gauthier said. “In the final, I was pleasantly surprised by my performance considering I was the only Canadian against, among others, three South Koreans.
“I didn’t realize right away I had just won Canada’s first medal of the Games. It makes it even more special.”
All five other Canadians advanced to the semis in the men’s and women’s 1500m, including Vincent Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que., Guillaume Bastille of Rivière-du-Loup, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier of Montreal, Keri Morrison of Burlington, Ont., and Caroline Truchon of Saguenay, Que., but none was able to reach the medal round.
In women’s hockey, McGill’s Gabrielle Davidson netted a hat-trick and Guelph’s Amanda Parkins tallied five points as Canada advanced to its third straight Universiade final thanks to a dominating 15-0 semifinal victory over Japan.
It was the second win over Japan in three days for the CIS all-stars (6-0), who beat the same opponent 9-1 on Monday to finish first in round-robin play. In Friday’s gold-medal match at 2 p.m. EST (8 p.m. Trentino), the Canadians will face Russia (4-2), a team they blanked 5-0 in preliminary round action on Dec. 12.
Canada is aiming for its third Universiade title in as many tries, after winning the inaugural FISU tournament in 2009 in Harbin, China, and repeating two years ago in Erzurum, Turkey. The Red & White is 20-0 all-time at the biennial competition and has now outscored its opponents by a 169-12 margin overall.
“Every game we seem to get a little stronger, which was our goal from the beginning. The more time we spend playing together, things seem to be coming a lot easier,” said Team Canada head coach Howie Draper from the University of Alberta. “We talked about psychological momentum as a team, and I think we had that in this game. It was important for us to jump out to a good start against Japan so that we can carry on from where we left off in the previous contest. We were able to successfully do that, which put the Japanese players at a disadvantage.”
In men’s hockey, UNB’s Tyler Carroll scored two goals while Chris Culligan, also of UNB, and Éric Faille of Moncton tallied three points apiece as the Canadian team qualified for the semifinals thanks to a 6-0 quarter-final win over Slovakia.
The result sets up yet another meeting at the tournament between Canada and archrival Russia, Friday at 10:30 a.m. EST (4:30 p.m. Trentino) in the early Final Four matchup. The second semi will see the United States battle Kazakhstan at 2:30 p.m. EST. Both games are streamed live at www.fisu.tv.
The Canadians and Russians – the two-time defending champions – have met at each of the last four FISU tourneys. Russia prevailed 4-2 in the 2011 semis, 4-2 in the 2009 gold-medal match and 6-0 in pool play in 2005, while the Canucks triumphed 3-1 in the 2007 final to capture their third Universiade title.
In 13 previous appearances at the competition, Canada has reached the podium 12 times, including three gold medals (2007, 1991, 1981), three silver and six bronze.
“Any time you get Canada and Russia, it’s going to be great for hockey fans,” said Team Canada head coach Gardiner MacDougall from reigning CIS champion UNB. “You have two very good teams and it will be exciting.
“The whole point of this tournament is to get better every game and it’s not always going to be a straight line. Maybe the performance in the last game allowed us to go up two steps today instead of one. We had more urgency, were more business-like.”
Canada was also competing in alpine skiing and biathlon on Wednesday.
On the slopes, Maëlle Bergeron of Quebec City was the top Canuck in the women’s giant slalom with a 30th position (1:56.92). Teammates Sandrine David of Montreal (1:58.01) and Émilie Lamoureux of Mt. Tremblant, Que. (1:59.67) were 38th and 45th, respectively.
In biathlon, the foursome of Jennifer Paterson of St. Albert, Alta., Keely MacCullough of Calgary, Ryan Burlingame of Whitehorse and Guillaume Bertrand of St. Barnabé, Que., placed ninth in the mixed relay (women 2×6 km & men 2×7.5 km).
Team Canada website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/winter/2013/index
Trentino 2013 website:http://www.universiadetrentino.org/en
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18 RESULTS
Women’s Giant Slalom
1. Maryna Gasienica-Daniel, Poland, 1:50.99; 2. Michelle Morik, Austria, 1:51.23; Veronica Smedh, Sweden, 1:51.54; 30. Maëlle Bergeron, Quebec City, Que., 1:56.92; 38. Sandrine David, Montreal, Que., 1:58.01; 45. Émilie Lamoureux, Mt. Tremblant, Que., 1:59.67.
Mixed Relay (women 2×6 km & men 2×7.5 km)
1. Russia, 1:18:25.6; 2. Ukraine, 1:19:54.5; 3. Czech Republic, 1:20:58.2; 9. Canada (Jennifer Paterson, St. Albert, Alta.; Keely MacCullough, Calgary, Alta.; Ryan Burlingame, Whitehorse, Yukon; Guillaume Bertrand, St. Barnabé, Que.), lapped.
Canada (6-0) wins 15-0 over Japan (3-3) in semifinals; will face Russia (4-2) Friday at 2 p.m. EST (8 p.m. Trentino) in final.
Canada (3-1) wins 6-0 over Slovakia (2-2) in quarter-finals; will face Russia (4-0) Friday at 10:30 a.m. EST (4:30 p.m. Trentino) in semifinals.
SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING
Women’s 1500m – Heat 1
1. Caroline Truchon, Chicoutimi, Que., 2:29.353, advances to semifinals.
Women’s 1500m – Heat 2
2. Keri Morrison, Burlington, Ont., 2:34.777, advances to semifinals.
Women’s 1500m – Heat 5
2. Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, Montreal, Que., 2:28.149, advances to semifinals.
Women’s 1500m – Semifinal 1
4. Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, Montreal, Que., 2:29.630, advances to B final.
Women’s 1500m – Semifinal 2
4. Keri Morrison, Burlington, Ont., 2:27.461, advances to B final; 5. Caroline Truchon, Chicoutimi, Que., 2:27.722, does not advance, finishes 13th overall.
Women’s 1500m – B Final
3. Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, Montreal, Que., 2:26.902, finishes 9th overall; 5. Keri Morrison, Burlington, Ont., 2:27.217, finishes 11th overall.
Men’s 1500m – Heat 4
2. Guillaume Bastille, Rivière-du-Loup, Que., 2:26.995, advances to quarter-finals.
Men’s 1500m – Heat 5
1. Vincent Cournoyer, Boucherville, Que., 2:20.823, advances to quarter-finals.
Men’s 1500m – Heat 7
2. Yoan Gauthier, Rivière-du-Loup, Que., 2:27.185, advances to quarter-finals.
Men’s 1500m – Quarter-Final 1
2. Yoan Gauthier, Rivière-du-Loup, Que., 2:16.164, advances to semifinals.
Men’s 1500m – Quarter-Final 3
1. Vincent Cournoyer, Boucherville, Que., 2:19.672, advances to semifinals.
Men’s 1500m – Quarter-Final 4
2. Guillaume Bastille, Rivière-du-Loup, Que., 2:24.554, advances to semifinals.
Men’s 1500m – Semifinal 1
Guillaume Bastille, Rivière-du-Loup, Que., PEN, does not advance, finishes 12th overall.
Men’s 1500m – Semifinal 2
2. Yoan Gauthier, Rivière-du-Loup, Que., 2:16.767, advances to A final; 4. Vincent Cournoyer, Boucherville, Que., 2:16.970, advances to B final.
Men’s 1500m – B Final
2. Vincent Cournoyer, Boucherville, Que., 2:29.007, finishes 9th overall.
Men’s 1500m – A Final
1. Noh Jin-Kyu, South Korea, 2:16.810; 2. Um Cheon-Ho, South Korea, 2:16.852; 3. Yoan Gauthier, Rivière-du-Loup, Que., 2:17.742.
Men’s 5000m Relay – Heat 2
1. Canada (Guillaume Bastille, Rivière-du-Loup, Que.; Vincent Cournoyer, Boucherville, Que.; Patrick Duffy, Oakville, Ont.; Sébastien Landry, Montreal, Que.), 6:56.724, advances to semifinals Thursday at 12:30 p.m. EST (6:30 p.m. Trentino).