The world’s best short track speed skaters were back in action this weekend, kicking off the 2010-11 Korean Air ISU World Cup Short Track season at the Maurice Richard Arena in Montreal, Canada. A total of 23 countries participated in this first stop of the World Cup circuit; however, Korea was notably not in attendance.
The absence of the world’s top nation provided the opportunity for countries like Canada, China and the United States to take control of the racing. Taking advantage of local support and fans, Canada finished the weekend with 11 medals, followed by the United States who took 10 medals. China earned a total of 5 medals with other medals going to France (3) and Italy (1).
With qualifications scheduled on Friday, the first medals were handed out on Saturday afternoon. This weekend, the skaters competed in 1500m events twice along with racing once in the 500m, 1000m and Relay events. On the women’s side, it was the American skaters who took the win in both 1500m events. The first 1500m Final was won by Lana Gehring, who finished ahead of Yang Zhou (China) and Valerie Maltais (Canada). In the second 1500m Final, Katherine Reutter took the win, ahead of Canadian skater Marie-Eve Drolet (second) and Yang Zhou (third).
On the men’s side, the 1500m Finals were split between American and Canadian skaters. In the first event, Jeff Simon (USA) finished ahead of team-mate Simon Cho (second) and Canadian skater Guillaume Bastille (third). In the second event, Bastille took the win, finishing ahead of Travis Jayner (USA) and Maxime Chataignier (France).
The 500m Finals were dominated by Canadian skaters, who took the win in both the ladies and men’s events. For the ladies, it was Marianne St-Gelais who finished first, with Arianna Fontana (Italy) taking second, and Valerie Maltais taking third. The third place finish allowed Maltais to earn her second individual medal of the weekend. On the men’s side, Charles Hamelin was the winner, with Simon Cho finishing second, and Wenhao Liang of China placing third.
The ladies 1000m Final was won by Katherine Reutter, with Marianne Ste-Gelais finishing a close second. Both skaters earning their second medal of this World Cup stop. Third place finish went to Quihong Liu of China. On the men’s side, the win went to Thibaut Fauconnet of France. This was the only individual Final of the weekend, ladies and men combined, that was not won by either an American or Canadian skater. Second place in this race went to Michael Gilday (Canada) and Travis Jayner.
As is customary, the weekend’s competition ended with the Relay events. The ladies 3000m Relay Final was won by China, with the United States finishing second. Third place went to the Canadian team. In the men’s 5000m relay event, the local crowd was treated to a victory by their team; Canada finished ahead of France, who managed to edge out the team from the United States.
The next stop of the Korean Air ISU World Cup Short Track takes place on October 29-31, 2010 in Quebec City, Canada.