Double gold medalist Charles Hamelin appears primed for the 2014 Winter Olympics — even if he suffered a minor setback at the Canadian team trials on Sunday.
Hamelin was forced to withdraw after slamming into the wall with two competitors during a 1,000-metre semi-final.
The three-time Olympic medalist was walking on crutches after the race.
Hamelin, a native of Levis, Que., said he stretched a ligament in the crash but that the injury isn’t serious. He said he should be back skating in a week.
Up until that point, Hamelin had dominated the competition, winning all of his eight races during the meet that ran from Aug. 7 to 18.
“Even in my dreams I couldn’t dream of that,” Hamelin said.
“It’s really fun to see that I was able to do everything I wanted to do on the ice, and that I was as strong as I was for the whole two weeks.”
The trials were spread over 12 days to replicate the schedule at the Sochi Games.
Hamelin said the injury likely won’t affect his preparation for the Olympics but that he’ll get a precautionary X-ray on Monday.
Overall, the make-up of Canada’s short-track team headed to Sochi, Russia, became a little clearer after the team trials.
Canada, a powerhouse at short-track, is led by an accomplished veteran group along with some promising emerging stars.
On the men’s side, Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer and Olivier Jean are on solid footing to represent Canada at the Olympics.
Marie-Eve Drolet, Valerie Maltais and Marianne St-Gelais are the front-runners on the women’s side.
Maltais was the strongest of the group, winning a total of six events at the meet.
The Olympic team isn’t yet official, however.
Speed Skating Canada will announce a list of five men and five women on Aug. 29.
The athletes then have to confirm quota places for themselves and Canada at Olympic qualifying competitions in the fall.
As the meet wrapped up, skaters said they would focus on fine-tuning their approach in the months leading up to the Olympics.
St-Gelais, who took silver medals in the 500-metres and the relay in Vancouver, said she feels fast and strong, but wants to be more aware of her competitors on the track.
“My goal was to be top three, and I did that,” said St-Gelais, a native of Roberval, Que.
“I think I’m strong and I’m going to try to keep that shape until the Olympics, but I need to be more aware of others on the ice.”
St-Gelais said the group remains tight-knit and she’s hoping for another strong showing in the relay event, for both the men and the women.
Maltais said the goal for her — and the team — will be to steadily improve as they head toward Sochi.
The skater from La Baie, Que., set a world record in the 1,000 metres in October.
“As an athlete you want to peak at the right time,” she said. “This is just the start.”
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