SPORTS

Maltais takes bronze, Hamelin DQs in world championship 1,000-metre races

03/16/2014 03:08 EDT | Updated 05/16/2014 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - The prizes came in threes for Valerie Maltais on the final day of the world short track speed skating championship.

The skater from La Baie, Que., won bronze in the 1,000-metre race, silver in the women's relay and finished third in women's overall standings before a roaring crowd at the Maurice Richard Arena on Sunday.

"I felt awesome on the ice," said Maltais. "The ice was good so it made the races interesting for everyone.

"I had nothing to lose. I was seventh going into the day, but the 1,000 is my favourite distance. I was tired at the end, but it got me third overall, so I'm very happy."

Victor An of Russia won a sixth men's overall title after Canada's Charles Hamelin fell on the final lap of the 3,000-metre race. Double gold medallist Shim Suk Hee of South Korea took the women's overall prize.

Canada ended up with four medals, one more than they got three weeks ago at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

"When we came back the whole team was motivated to continue training until having the worlds at home," said Maltais, whose relay squad with Jessica Hewitt of Langley, B.C., Jessica Gregg of Edmonton and Marianne St-Gelais of St. Felicien, Que. matched their silver medal from the Olympics.

They overcame an early glitch when Hewitt fell during an exchange with Maltais. The team finished third, but moved up to second when South Korea was penalized for impeding.

"Val was right there to tag me right away so we were able to catch up to the pack," said Hewitt. "It was an OK race. I just wish that hadn't happened at the beginning."

Shim, who also won the 1,500, and teammate Park Seung-Hi finished 1-2 in the 1,000. Maltais edged Britain's Elise Christie for third place.

Christie led early but fell back when she was forced to cut well inside the track by Shim. No foul was called.

"That early on in the race it's not a very sportsmanlike thing to do, but she did it and she got a medal for it," said Christie, who was penalized three times in Sochi for fouls. "It worked for her and unfortunatelty it didn't work for me."

Hamelin went into the three-day event gunning for his first overall title and got off to a good start by winning the 1,500-metres and placing third in the 500.

But on Sunday, he was disqualified from his 1,000-metre semifinal after a failed attempt to pass on the inside. Then he fell on the final turn of the 27th and last lap while chasing An for the lead in the 3,000.

"It was close again," said the Ste-Julie, Que., skater, who has twice been runner-up for the overall title. "It's not the end result I wanted. In the 3K, I tried to race to the line, hit two blocks in the corner and the title was out for me."

The penalty he took in the 1,000 was especially costly because he got no points from the event. The 3,000, which is unique to the worlds, is not a medal event but the points they earn according to their placings count toward the overall title.

"It was my mistake," he said of the inside pass that sent China's Shi Jingnan and American Chris Creavling sprawling into the padded rink walls. "I didn't want to go inside and I forced it.

"(Shi) was really on me. I didn't touch him at all, but it was a really tight pass and when it's like that, the refree can call it either way. It was my fault. I should not have put myself in that situation and should have went outside."

An, formerly known as Ahn Hyun-Soo of South Korea, won the 1,000 ahead of Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands and Park Se Yeong of South Korea.

It was a big day for the Dutch, as their men's team of Knegt, Niels Kerstholt, Daan Breeuwsma and Freek van der Wart won the relay ahead of South Korea and Britain, after the Russian closer fell near the finish line. It was their first relay gold since 1990.

"Especially after the Olympics, which was kind of a disaster for us where everything went wrong, it feels like a big relief," said van der Wart. "We tried to hold first position and couldn't, so I tried to throw Sjinkie as hard as I could into the last two laps.

"I thought we'd be fourth, and I don't know how we mangaed to do it, but it's incredible."

The Canadian men's relay squad had been eliminated in the semifinals on Saturday.

An, a triple gold medalist in Sochi, got the overall title ahead of J.R. Celski of the United States and Hamelin. Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que. was 12th overall and Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que. placed 16th.

"It came down to the 3K, it always does," said Celski. "I'm surprised to get second overall. I was sixth going into the 3K. That's how close it was."

Shim got the women's title ahead of Park, Maltais, Christie and American Jessica Smith.

St-Gelais was 10th and Marie-Eve Drolet of Laterriere, Que. was 19th.

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