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Canadians fall just short of podium at short-track speed skating World Cup

11/16/2014 05:28 EST | Updated 01/16/2015 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - Canadian short track speed skaters aren't down in the dumps despite a miserable day of competition.

The Canadian men and women were kept off the podium and away from any silverware at the ISU short track World Cup at Montreal's Maurice Richard Arena on Sunday.

"Nobody is too disappointed," said Charles Hamelin, who failed to qualify for the final of the men's 500-metre race. "There were a lot of youngsters who had good races. A lot of us had good races. It's not because we weren't in finals that we can't take away anything positive from the weekend."

Besides Hamelin, Valerie Maltais (eighth in the women's 1,000 race), Guillaume Bastille (fifth in the men's 1,000) and Patrick Duffy (sixth in the men's 1,000) all failed to qualify for their respective finals.

"We may not have gotten medals, but we're already looking ahead to the next World Cups," added Hamelin. "We always aim for a podium finish, but now we have to focus on our upcoming competitions."

Canada came close to earning a medal on just two occasions on Sunday, but fell short both times.

In the last hope for a Canadian medal on the day, Marianne St-Gelais fell and crashed into the boards on the final turn of the women's 3,000 relay. The foursome made up of St-Gelais, Maltais, Kasandra Bradette and Kim Boutin finished fourth.

"The day was filled with misadventures," said Boutin, 19. "We were all in fine form despite a few falls and a few disqualifications."

Earlier in the day, 21-year-old Yoan Gauthier finished fourth in the men's 500 final, losing out on a bronze medal by one tenth of a second. Gauthier looked to have secured a third-place finish before Russia's Vladimir Grigorev overtook him on the last lap.

"There were a lot of positives in my last race, despite the lack of a medal," said Gauthier, who made his first appearance in a Word Cup final. "I think I proved to everybody, and to myself, that I can compete in precarious circumstances."

In his semifinal, crowd favourite Hamelin appeared destined for a spot in the 500 final until Russians Dmitry Migunov and Grigorev jumped ahead of him with two laps remaining.

"I was tight in a turn, and my right foot just didn't hold," said Hamelin. "I went wide, and the two Russians went by me. I don't think it was a bad race on my end."

In the first of two 1,000-metres men's semifinals, Bastille failed to make the final by just 13 milliseconds after Hungary's Shaolin Sandor Liu gave a final burst of speed on the last turn.

"When I overtook the Russian, I lost a lot of speed, and the Hungarian made the most of it," said Bastille. "Kudos to him. I was between first and third, and I was holding on to my third place. Thirteen milliseconds… that hurts."

In the following race, Duffy also missed out on the 1,000 final by 14 milliseconds.

In the women's relay, St-Gelais and her skating partners were in second place for a large portion of the race, giving speed-skating fans at Maurice Richard Arena something to celebrate. After the women fell into third place with just one lap to go, St-Gelais made a move for second but lost her footing.

"It's unfortunate that it happened — the ice was getting soft," said Boutin of Gelais' fall on the final turn. "She gave it her all, and we can't reprimand her for that. We ran a good race."

Canada finished fourth behind the Russians, Italians, and South Koreans, who won gold.

"We moved up from fourth to second, and we kept a good speed throughout," added Boutin. "We wanted a podium finish, but these things happen."

Boutin and the relay team qualified for Sunday's final after finishing second in the semifinal. The men's relay team was not in action on Sunday after failing to advance from Friday's heats.

Canada's disappointing ended a tough weekend for Canadian short-track speed skaters. On Saturday, St-Gelais captured Canada's only medal from the weekend's events — silver in the women's 500 final.

Last week in Salt Lake City, the first event of this World Cup season, Canadians took home a total of four medals — one gold, one silver, and two bronze.

On Sunday in Montreal, Arianna Fontana of Italy won gold in the women's 500, while South Korea's Suk Hee Shim took top spot in the 1,000.

On the men's side, Migunov won gold in the men's 500 race, and Da Woon Sin from South Korea was victorious in the 1000. South Korea won the men's 5,000-metre team relay.

Notes: This was the seventh short track speed skating World Cup held in Montreal, and the 16th held in a Canadian city. … The next short track World Cup event will take place in Shanghai, China, on Dec. 12, followed by Seoul, South Korea, on Dec. 19.

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