DRESDEN, GERMANY – Charles Hamelin is back. The native of Sainte-Julie, Que. found the podium in an individual race for the first time this season, winning the silver medal in the men’s 1500m at the 2019 ISU World Cup Short Track in Germany on Saturday.
The reigning World Champion appears to be returning to the form that helped him capture the title last season. He crossed the line in 2:15.155 behind Korea’s Kim Gun Woo. Lim Hyo Jun of Korea rounded out the podium, just ahead of Canadian Steven Dubois of Lachenaie, Que. who finished in fourth.
“It felt super good to have been on the podium today,” said Hamelin after his race. “We started the season a bit late with our new coach, but it’s starting to pay off.”
“We continue to work hard, and with these results and those from next weekend, our confidence will continue to grow,” added Hamelin. “I will have to battle hard to defend my World Championship title, but I think that I will be ready.”
Also finding the podium for the first time this season was Charles Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que. His time of 1:25.412 was fast enough for silver in the men’s 1000m (1), narrowly edging out Korea’s Hong Kyung Hwan by four thousandths of a second. Hong’s teammate Hwang Dae Heon captured the gold medal, completing Korea’s trifecta of first-place finishes ahead of Canadians.
“For Canada, these medals show that we are in top form, » explained Cournoyer. “It’s a good sign for the upcoming World Championships. I’m happy with my progress and am ready.”
Rounding out a trio of Canadian silver medalists, Kim Boutin skated her way onto the podium in a ladies 1500m final that featured expertly executed passes and numerous lead changes. The native of Sherbrooke, Que. posted a time of 2:23.140, finishing behind gold medalist Kim Ji Yoo of Korea and ahead of Suzanne Schulting from the Netherlands.
Boutin was proud of the strategy she used during the final race: “I noticed that all of the best girls were up at the front and we weren’t skating very fast. I used that as an opportunity to conserve my energy and put myself in a good position so that I could finish strong in the end.”
“I’m trying to become a better athlete every year,” she added. “I continue to learn from my races and when I have the opportunity to fight in heavy traffic, as was the case in the final, it allows me to learn lessons that will be useful in the future.”
The only other Canadian in medal contention during finals racing on Saturday was Alyson Charles of Montreal, Que. who finished fourth in the ladies 1000m (1). Skating in the B finals, Claudia Gagnon of Saguenay, Que. and Pascal Dion of Montreal, Que. earned an eighth-place finish in the ladies 1000m (1) and twelfth spot in the men’s 1500m, respectively.
The men’s and ladies relay teams both qualified for tomorrow’s finals, while a fall with two laps remaining ended the mixed relay’s chances at the podium.
Other Canadian skaters in action on Saturday:
- Kasandra Bradette (St. Félicien, Que.) – Sixth in the ladies 1000m (1) semifinal
- Courtney Sarault (Moncton, NB) – Penalized in the semifinal of the ladies 1500m
- Samuel Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que.) and Cédrik Blais (Châteauguay, Que.) – Fourth in their respective quarter-finals of the men’s 1000m (1)
Sunday will see Girard, Dubois and Blais race in the men’s 500m, while teammates Boutin, Charles and Bradette join them on the ladies side.
Dion, Hamelin and Cournoyer have secured their spots in the men’s 1000m (2) quarter-finals, as has Sarault in the ladies event. Gagnon will need to pass through the repechage to join them.