Photo: Zsolt Czegledi/MTI via AP
Photo: Zsolt Czegledi/MTI via AP

Three more medals for Canadian short trackers at season-opening World Cup

Sunday proved to be pretty super for Team Canada’s short track speed skaters in Budapest as they came away with three more medals from the season-opening World Cup stop.

One of those was gold in the men’s 5000m relay, courtesy of Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer, Samuel Girard and Pascal Dion. Francois Hamelin also received a medal after racing in the preliminary heats.

The Canadians had a near-disaster with 24 laps to go. Just after Girard made the exchange to Dion, he clicked skates with a Korean skater who fell. Dion managed to stay on his feet, but there was a lot of distance for the Canadians to make up on China and Japan.

They gradually reeled them, fully catching up with 11 laps to go and taking the lead after Dion took the exchange from Girard with six laps left. It was Girard who skated the final two laps, just edging out China at the line by 0.005 of a second. Japan came through for the bronze.

The women’s 3000m relay team also made it to the podium, as the quartet of Valerie Maltais, Marianne St-Gelais, Kasandra Bradette and Jamie Macdonald finished second to South Korea. Russia claimed the bronze.

Both of those podium finishes are extremely important towards Canada’s goal of qualifying a full team of five men and five women for PyeongChang 2018. That can only happen if they qualify both relay teams. The top three results in each event from the four World Cup stops this fall will be counted towards an Olympic qualification ranking list.

Kim Boutin had started the day by claiming her second World Cup silver in as many days, finishing second in the 1000m on Sunday. She also contributed to the silver in the relay after skating in the preliminary heats.

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A day after she won silver in the 1500m, Boutin put herself at the front of the pack from the start. After some position swapping, Boutin was back the lead when with less than two laps to go, she was passed by South Korea’s Choi Min Jeong, who also claimed the gold medal in the 1500m. Elise Christie of Great Britain took the bronze.

Cournoyer competed in the men’s 1000m final that had immediately followed. He was in position to claim the bronze medal until he lost an edge on the very last corner.

The ISU World Cup continues next weekend in Dordrecht, Netherlands.