Jessica Gregg, Guillaume Bastille and Valerie Maltais were all golden Sunday and the rest of the Canadian short track speedskating team showed that the Maurice Richard Arena is clearly their home ice.
Gregg and Bastille both won gold medals as Canadians swept the second set of women’s and men’s 500-metre events in this weekend’s World Cup stop in Montreal.
Maltais, from La Baie, Que., won Canada’s third gold medal of the day in the women’s 1000-metre final.
“It’s hard to top that,” said Bastille, a native of Riviere-du-Loup, Que. “It’s an excellent haul today. It makes for a good show and hopefully it will draw more and more people to come see our events. We’re going to have the World Cup here in 2014 so consider this an invitation to everyone.”
The Canadian team’s home base made for a slower track one week after three world records were set in Calgary.
The venue is just fine with Yves Hamelin, Canada’s short track director and the father of men’s teammates Charles and Francois.
“It’s their ice. They train here all the time,” said Yves Hamelin. “It’s not the best ice in the world but they know the ice inside out so they know how to skate on it.”
Marianne St-Gelais of St-Felicien, Que., won silver in the women’s 500-metre followed by Caroline Truchon of Chicoutimi, Que.
The three Canadian women were on their own with a commanding lead throughout the race after Russia’s Tatiana Borudulina stumbled off the start.
“I kind of saw her out of the corner of my eye on the other side but I didn’t realize that she had fallen,” said Gregg, who won a silver medal in Saturday’s 500-metre final. “I was so focused on what I had to do but in the end I knew it was just us three, so I was really happy.”
St-Gelais finished fourth in Saturday’s race, which was won by Wang Meng of China. Wang did not compete in Sunday’s 500-metre event.
South Korea’s Kim Byeong-Jun crossed the finish line second in the men’s 500-metre race but he was penalized for pushing off Yellowknife’s Michael Gilday in the final lap.
Gilday was awarded second and Liam McFarlane of Medicine Hat, Alta., moved up to take bronze.
“The crowd was excited, making lots of noise, and we really enjoy performing at home,” said Gilday.
Maltais made a late move to take the lead and won going away, pumping her fist to the partisan crowd after crossing the finish line.
“The crowd particularly helps at the end of the race when it gives you energy,” said Maltais. “They can tell if you’re doing well, they can see who’s behind you and that can really help.”
Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., won silver in the men’s 1,000-metre final. South Korea’s Kwak Yoon Gy won after setting a world record in the event during a semifinal last weekend in Calgary.
South Korea’s Noh Jinkyu beat out American J.R. Celski for the bronze.
“In a race like that you can only feel happy about finishing second,” said Charles Hamelin. “The four best men were on the ice for the 1000-metre final today, so I’m proud of myself to finish second against those three other guys.”
Canada also claimed silver in the women’s 3000-metre relay, which was won by China. Japan took the bronze.
South Korea won gold in the men’s 5000-metre relay, followed by China in second and the United States in third.
The Canadian men failed to qualify for the final.
“Globally, today was an amazing day,” said Yves Hamelin. “The girls and the boys did a great job. They had the momentum. They had the wind in their back from the crowd. We are really happy about what they achieved today.”