Canada earns 8 medals at short-track World Cup
Gilday, Beaulieu-Tinker pick up silver on final day of competition in Vancouver
Canada's Michael Gilday and Remi Beaulieu-Tinker finished second and third in the men's 1,000 metres at a World Cup short-track speedskating competition Sunday as Canadians won six medals on the track that will host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
François-Louis Tremblay of Alma, Que., and Marianne St-Gelais of St-Felicien, Que., earned silver medals in the 500 at Vancouver. The men's 5,000 relay team also picked up a silver while the women's 3,000 team was third.
"It's a good omen," said Gilday, 21, who was born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and grew up in Yellowknife. "It gives me a lot of confidence moving forward. We are really comfortable in this facility."
Canadian skaters won a total of eight medals during the three-day event. Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., won the gold medal in the 1,000 Saturday while his brother François took the bronze. The brothers were also members of the relay team.
"It's great to see Canada perform like that here," said Charles Hamelin. "For the boys it's good but the girls, they didn't expect it."
Added Gilday: "This is the home-ice advantage we are talking about. Having this event here makes all the difference. It helped us feel comfortable at home."
The medal haul also showed the Canadian team has a bright future. It was the first podium finish ever for Gilday, St-Gelais and Beaulieu-Tinker of Alma, Que.
"It's special to get my first World Cup podium at the Olympic venue," said St-Gelais. "I didn't want to get overwhelmed with that.
"I'm confident I can make the Olympic team. There's still a whole season to go, a year and a half before the Olympics, but I'm confident I can do it."
Gilday said the results show the Canadian team's potential.
"It means we are moving in the right direction," he said. "Today when things clicked we showed we can be the best in the world and we aren't too far off from the mark where we want to be."
A first for Vancouver
The competition, which attracted 180 athletes from 25 countries, was the first Olympic sports test event to be held in Vancouver. It was hosted in the Pacific Coliseum, which will also be the home to both short-track speedskating and figure skates during the 2010 Winter Games.
A crowd of 4,753 watched Sunday's competition.
Officials with the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee, known locally as VANOC, spent the week testing the venue's field of play and gauging the performance of about 250 volunteers.
"The feedback from both the athletes and the international skating union has been really positive," said Tim Gayda, VANOC's vice-president of sport. "Every time we get to operate this building helps us produce better ice for [the Games].
"There is a whole bunch of little things we can do better. They are all things we will address as we move forward."
VANOC has spent about $17 million upgrading the building, including increasing the ice surface to international size, installing a boardless padding system around the track, improving the air circulation, adding new seats and generally cleaning up the facility.
The coliseum, built in 1968, served as home to the NHL Vancouver Canucks from 1970 until they moved to GM Place in 1995. The building is now home for the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants.