Canadian speed skaters take podium in bunches
Charles Hamelin won gold and Charle Cournoyer took bronze in a men’s 1,000-metre race as Canada claimed four medals Sunday at a World Cup short-track speed skating stop.
The Canadian men’s relay team collected a medal for the first time this season by earning silver, while the women’s relay team won bronze as Canada ended the two-day event with nine medals.
Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., and Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., became the third Canadian pair to share a podium over the weekend.
“Today was a good day for me because until then, I had gone through some tough moments since the team had arrived in Asia,” Hamelin said.
“I really wanted to give 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.”
Russia’s Semion Elistratov took silver in the 1,000.
Hamelin and Cournoyer then teamed with Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que., and Montreal’s Pascal Dion to take the men’s relay silver. François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie skated in the competition’s previous rounds.
Hungary won gold and bronze went to the United States.
In the women’s relay, Canada earned bronze to come up with a podium finish for a third World Cup stage in a row.
South Korea won gold, followed by the Netherlands.
The Canadian foursome was comprised of Marianne St-Gelais of Saint-Felicien, Que., Valérie Maltais of Saguenay, Que., Kasandra Bradette from Saint-Felicien and Kim Boutin from Sherbrooke, Que.
Hirscher matches Tomba giant slalom win
Marcel Hirscher was more pleased at finally beating his French rivals than with the fact that he had matched Alberto Tomba with a record fourth giant-slalom win in Alta Badia on Sunday. The overall World Cup leader from Austria increased his first-leg lead and finished 0.71 seconds ahead of Mathieu Faivre of France on the steep and dark Gran Risa course. Florian Eisath of Italy was third, 1.10 behind.
Hirscher had finished second behind Frenchmen – Alexis Pinturault twice and Faivre once – in each of the previous three giant-slalom races. Thomas Fanara and Victor Muffat-Jeandet, two more French skiers, have also been highly competitive.
“I’m super happy to get my first GS win of the season,” Hirscher said. “The French team is the benchmark at moment. All four guys showed in France how strong they are.”
Pinturault, who won on home snow in Val d’Isere last weekend, fell early in his second run, spun around and crashed into the safety netting at high speed.
He was charging hard after placing seventh in the opening run. Pinturault was slow getting up but skied down under his own power. He said later that he was not injured but had only sore legs. Olympic champion Ted Ligety slid off course shortly into his first run. The American, a two-time winner on the Gran Risa, has been unable to train properly lately due to severe back pain.
Italian great Tomba captured his wins on the Gran Risa course in 1987, ‘90, ‘91 and ‘94. Hirscher has now won this race four straight years. He also took a slalom in Badia in 2011.
Gut bounces back to win super-G
Lara Gut was in a philosophical mood after ending her slump in form with a convincing win in a World Cup super-G race on Sunday.“I believe in energy … How can you describe, if someone doesn’t believe you, that you don’t feel the skis?” Gut said. “Sometimes you don’t feel it. Sometimes you’re fighting against yourself, against things you don’t realize.”
The defending World Cup overall champion had failed to finish Friday’s Alpine combined race and Saturday’s downhill, dropping valuable points in her ongoing contest with current World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States.
But the Swiss bounced back for her third victory of the season and 21st career win, closing the gap on Shiffrin to five points heading into their showdown in a giant slalom on Tuesday, in the nearby Alpine resort of Courchevel. For Gut, it was also about connecting instinctively again with the Val d’Isere slope after the disappointment of the past two days. She considers the French Alpine resort one of her favourite places on the World Cup circuit, and has four wins among her six podiums here. Gut powered down the Oreiller-Killy course to beat Liechtenstein skier Tina Weirather by .13 seconds and Italian Elena Curtoni by more than one second.
Gut now has 38 career podiums, while Curtoni was celebrating just her second.