Canada won four more medals at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Sunday to conclude its most successful World Cup stop of the season.
Charles Hamelin and Charle Cournoyer shared the podium in the men’s 1000m, winning gold and bronze, respectively. Both were also members of the men’s 5000m relay that won silver for its first podium finish of the season. The women’s 3000m relay added a bronze medal to the tally.
The Canadian team leaves South Korea with nine medals from the test event of the 2018 Olympic venue, giving the country its best World Cup haul since November 2015 when the circuit was in Toronto. The squad has stepped on the podium 23 times in four stops thus far in 2016-17.
Hamelin and Cournoyer gave Canada its third double podium of the weekend, each of them earning their second individual World Cup medals of the season, sandwiched around Russian Semen Elistratov.
“Today was a good day for me because until then, I had gone through some tough moments since the team had arrived in Asia,” said Hamelin, who won his first medal since a 500m bronze in Salt Lake City in mid-November. “On Sunday, I really wanted to give my everything to find my way onto the podium, find some confidence and get some good vibes in this building before leaving – because the next time we will come here, it will probably be during the Olympics.”
“After some tough races earlier in Asia, my win today was like a release.”
For Cournoyer, his first medal since winning the 1000m in Calgary at the start of November was also quite satisfying.
“I’ve worked on a lot of things recently during my races,” he said, “This season, my goal is really to improve my decision making during races. In some races, I put myself in danger when I found myself in situations I wasn’t accustomed to, or situations in which I didn’t feel comfortable. So I’m happy to see that the work is paying off and that I ended up on the podium today, especially at this test event on the road to the Olympics.”
After two fourth place finishes earlier this season, the men’s 5000m relay finally got its first medal. Hamelin and Cournoyer were joined in the final by Samuel Girard and Pascal Dion, while Francois Hamelin, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Sunday, skated in the early rounds. Hungary took gold while the United States claimed bronze.
“We did some great work today,” said Charles Hamelin. “That was our best relay since we’ve been in Asia. We added some small things in our execution. We protected our position well considering it was a five-team race.
The women’s 3000m relay, comprised on Sunday by Marianne St-Gelais, Valerie Maltais, Kasandra Bradette, and Kim Boutin, earned its third straight podium finish. Marie-Eve Drolet and Jamie MacDonald both skater in the early rounds. Canada had been holding onto first place in the final until a fall with eight laps to go led to the drop back to third place.
“Our strategy was really good, we were solid,” said St-Gelais. “The fall changed the course of events, but I think we can still be proud of what we did. We put together a brand new relay and it was really solid.”
The World Cup now heads into a break for a few weeks. The Canadian team is headed home to prepare for the national championships in mid-January before the international season picks up again in February.