On the road to Sochi, Speed Skating Canada’s short track team made its first stop of the 2013-14 World Cup season in Shanghai, China and produced five podium performances. It was a particularly successful weekend for team leader Charles Hamelin who captured medals in all four men’s events, earning him Athlete of the Week honours.
In the first final on Saturday, Hamelin narrowly missed out on the gold, finishing a close second in the 1500m to South Korean Jinkyu Noh who won the overall World Cup title in the distance last season. Hamelin was back on the ice later in the day and won the 500m, in which he is the reigning Olympic champion as well as the defending overall World Cup champion.
“A Korean hooked me in the last stretch of the 1500m which cost me the victory. I expected the referees to report the fault, but it was not the case. Therefore, this silver medal feels like gold to me!” said Hamelin in a statement. “During the 500m that followed, I felt less explosive. I had a good start, and a good race, where I was able to keep an arduous pace to beat the Russian [Vladimir] Grigorev.”
On Sunday, Hamelin led the 1000m from start to finish for his second win and third podium of meet. The weekend concluded with the 5000m relay in which Hamelin, his younger brother François, Michael Gilday and Olivier Jean won bronze behind the United States and South Korea. The two Hamelins and Jean were all members of the squad that won gold at Vancouver 2010.
The fifth medal for the Canadian team in Shanghai was the bronze won by Hamelin’s girlfriend Marianne St-Gelais in the ladies’ 500m. The Canadians have moved on to the next World Cup stop in Seoul, South Korea, which runs October 3 to 6. That will be followed by stops in Turin, Italy (November 7-10) and Kolomna, Russia (November 14-17). The last two are more than just tune-ups for Sochi 2014. Olympic quota spots will be on the line.