Penalty costs Canada's mixed short track relay team an Olympic medal

Canada was left out of the medals after a thrilling final in the short track speed skating mixed team relay on Saturday over a push from behind that sent both the Canadian and Hungarian skaters sliding into the boards more than halfway through the race.

China takes 1st-ever gold medal in event's Olympic debut

Florence Brunelle of Team Canada and Petra Jaszapati of Team Hungary fall during the mixed team relay final at Capital Indoor Stadium on Saturday in Beijing, China. The crash cost the Canadians a spot on the podium. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Canada was left out of the medals after a thrilling final in the short-track speed skating mixed team relay on Saturday over a push from behind that sent both the Canadian and Hungarian skaters sliding into the boards.

China, tops in the world rankings, won the first-ever gold medal in the event, which made its Olympic debut at Beijing 2022. The gold is also the host country's first of these Games.

Italy took the silver medal despite a late charge and close finish, while Hungary, after review, was awarded the bronze.

Canada, which came into the Olympics ranked fifth in the world in the event, officially finished sixth after being penalized for the crash. The team qualified for the final at Capital Indoor Stadium after finishing second in its quarter-final race and edging out Italy to win the semifinal.

The Canadians were in an excellent position to win a medal, with the Koreans — the world-record holders in the event — not making it out of the quarter-finals, and the powerhouse Dutch team crashing out of their semifinal.

WATCH | Canada misses podium after penalty in short track mixed final:

Canada just misses podium after penalty in short track mixed relay final

10 months ago
Duration 7:12
The Canadian short track speed skating mixed relay team of Florence Brunelle, Kim Boutin, Steven Dubois and Jordan Pierre-Gilles are disqualified after receiving a penalty in the final and have to settle for fourth place.

The final got off to an ominous start when Canada's first skater, Florence Brunelle, collided with the Italian skater and the officials called for a restart.

Italy jumped out to the lead in what was a thrilling race, with each country jostling for medal positions. 

More than halfway through the race, Brunelle and Hungary's Petra Jaszapati collided, with both sliding off the course. Both teams recovered to finish the race, but after review, Canada received a penalty for a push from behind.

WATCH | Canadians 'disappointed' after penalty in short track mixed relay final:

Canadian mixed relay team 'disappointed' with DQ in short track final

10 months ago
Duration 1:32
Florence Brunelle, Kim Boutin, Steven Dubois and Jordan Pierre-Gilles discuss their disqualification from the short track mixed team relay final.

While each team is made up of six skaters, only four take the ice for any given race. For the final, Canada sent Brunelle, Steven Dubois, Kim Boutin and Jordan Pierre-Gilles onto the ice.

After the race, Pierre-Gilles said the team is "very disappointed" with the result.

"But those things happen, and they happen in short track," he said.

When there is contact in a final, "for sure they are going to penalize for that. We are disappointed about the result, but we have to move on and there are plenty of races to go, so we have to refocus."

The mixed relay is a 2,000-metre race that covers 18 laps. The order of skaters is woman, woman, man, man, woman, woman, man, man.

The skaters on each mixed relay team must have qualified for an individual short-track event, or a men's or women's relay. The mixed relay has been an event at the short-track world cup since the 2018-19 season.

Canadians qualify for individual quarter-finals

Meanwhile, all Canadians competing in the heats of the men's 1,000 metres and the women's 500 metres on Saturday made it through to the quarter-finals.

Brunelle, Boutin (the world-record holder in the event) and Alyson Charles all advanced in the women's 500 metres, while Pierre-Gilles and Pascal Dion (who is ranked No. 1 in the world in the event) advanced in the men's 1,000m.

The quarter-finals, semifinals and finals of both events are set for Monday.

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