Short track team leaves Shanghai with eight medals

In the first stop in the Asian leg of the 2014-15 short track speed skating World Cup Series, Canada picked up eight medals in Shanghai, China./p>

On Saturday, Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais each earned a silver medal in the men’s 1500 metres and women’s 500m respectively.

Hamelin struck gold at Sochi 2014 in the 1500m. His 2:17.041 time in Shanghai was second to Sin Da Woon of South Korea (2:16.943), while American John-Henry Krueger (2:17.169) took bronze.

St-Gelais, to date the most successful Canadian in the current short track season, won her fifth World Cup medal (including relays) of the season on Saturday, skating behind China’s Fan Kexin (43.272) with a time of 43.361. St-Gelais beat South Korea’s Kim Alang (43.458) for the silver.

St-Gelais chasing Fan of China in Montreal at the second World Cup of the season. The two finished in this position again in Shanghai.

On Sunday, Canadian colours were on the podium at every race.

Hamelin took gold in the men’s 1000m, then was part of the bronze-medal winning 5000m team along with his brother Francois, Samuel Girard and Patrick Duffy. Another men’s medal came via William Preudhomme, a bronze in the 500m.

“I was able to skate smartly, to overtake effectively and in the right moments, and I had the energy to attack until the end,” Hamelin said of his 1000m victory according to a Skate Canada release. “Everything went very well.”

On the women’s side, in the second 500m race Kasandra Bradette took bronze, and St-Gelais returned to the podium with a third place in the 1000m and the 3000m relay, where teaming up with Bradette, Kim Boutin and Joanie Gervais the Canadians medalled behind South Korea and China.

Canadian women - including skaters who competed in the heats - collect the relay bronze in Shanghai.

Canadian women – including skaters who competed in the heats – collect the relay bronze in Shanghai (via Skate Canada)

St-Gelais, now up to seven medals – five individual – from three World Cup events this season, was close to missing the podium in the 1000m, but preserved her energy for the end, where tight races tend to get physical. She said “there were some hands, some arms and lot of things – but I was finally able to pull up to third place.”

The eight medals was the highest total for the short track team at a World Cup since 2012 in Montreal when they won 12. Adding to a sense of accomplishment, Preudhomme and Bradette made individual World Cup podiums for the first time in their careers.

Bradette admits she “came close” to being knocked off but was able to hang on as a Chinese competitor fell. “I’m happy with third place, but I still have to improve some things,” she said.

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Preudhomme experienced what he called a “long day” having to register two personal bests in the heats before the final. “Making a couple of best times gave me confidence. The final was a fast race, but I hung with it and ended up third.”

The Series now moves to Seoul, South Korea, where the powerhouse home team will be looking to take as many medals as possible in front of a passionate crowd. The Canadians could play spoiler if they recapture their Shanghai form next weekend.

Scott Harrigan
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