Speedskater wins short-track gold
SOCHI, Russia—Charles Hamelin took a step towards becoming the country’s most decorated winter Olympian of all time—and Canada moved a step forward towards its goal of winning the most medals at the Sochi Olympics.
Hamelin roared to victory in the men’s 1,500 short-track speedskating race today. That gives him four Olympic medals overall, including three gold.
“Of course I want to be on the podium again,” Hamelin said. “But this is short-track and it’s a tough sport.”
The golden performance gave Canada five medals at the Games: two gold, two silver and a bronze.
Canada has stated goal is to win the most medals of any country in Sochi.
And there was more medal potential later in the men’s moguls, where defending champion Alex Bilodeau and Canadian teammate Mikael Kingsbury are medal favourites.
Hamelin, from Ste-Julie, Que., will have two more chances to win individual gold in the 500 and 1,000, and he’ll be part of Canada’s team in the 5,000 relay.
He won the 500 and was part of the gold-winning relay team four years ago in Vancouver.
Hamelin is expected to compete for gold in those events in Sochi.
Winning the 1,500 is an extra bonus as Hamelin was seventh in that distance in Vancouver.
“It’s not my best distance,” admitted Hamelin. “But I had a really good start and was able to control the race afterwards.
“I am looking forward to continue [racing] that strong this week.”
After the race, Hamelin went to give a traditional kiss to girlfriend Marianne St-Gelais, who was watching from the stands.
The two made waves for their celebratory smooch after Hamelin won the 500 gold in Vancouver.
St-Gelais is a short-track medal threat in her own right, with two silver medals in Vancouver.
She also skated today, advancing to the quarter-finals in the women’s 500 and the final of the 3,000 relay, along with Marie-Eve Drolet, Jessica Hewitt, and Valerie Maltais.
Meanwhile, Canada’s men’s hockey team finally arrived in Sochi and had their first practice today, with Jeff Carter on right-wing alongside captain Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz on the top line.
In women’s hockey action, Jayna Hefford had a goal and an assist to lead Canada to a 3-0 win over Finland today.
Rebecca Johnston and Megan Agosta-Marciano also scored for the Canadians, who improved to 2-0.
The game was scoreless after two periods but Agosta-Marciano of Ruthven, Ont. sparked Canada’s offence with a power-play goal midway through the third.
Canada’s Shannon Szabados made 14 saves for the shutout.
Canada and the U.S square off Wednesday to conclude the preliminary round.
And in curling action, Canada made a sloppy start in its Olympic title defence, beating Germany 11-8 in what should have been the biggest mismatch of the men’s tournament.
Likely medal contenders Britain, Sweden, and China also won in the opening session at the Ice Cube Curling Center.
Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. is seeking Canada’s third-straight men’s gold medal.
Canada trailed 4-2 after three ends and only was ahead 9-8 ahead going into the 10th and final end.
Britain silenced the horn-blowing Russian fans by beating the host nation 7-4.
China defeated Denmark 7-4 while world champion Sweden defeated European champion Switzerland 7-5.
In women’s action, skip Jennifer Jones and Team Canada won 9-2 in their first match after China conceded in the seventh end.
Jones said her teammates had trouble hearing each other while the raucous crowd cheered wildly as Russia took on Denmark three sheets over.
“You can’t really hear very well but we’ll come up with some solutions to that,” said Jones, who has hand signals worked out—a hand up means stop sweeping—for when the din of the crowd threatens to drown out her directions.
“I thought we did a good job managing it and we’ll figure it out going forward.”
Canada won gold in men’s curling and silver in women’s at the 2010 Vancouver Games.