Canada's Steven Dubois wins short track Olympic silver medal
Holds off ROC skater at finish line; Canadian women's relay team into 3,000m final
Soaking up the moment, a beaming Steven Dubois wasn't ready to share his feelings on being a first-time Olympic medallist.
"If I think about it I feel like I'm going to cry," he told Radio-Canada after reaching the short track podium in his Winter Games debut. "I feel once I get the medal, the little box, everything … I can't wait to celebrate with my teammates."
Dubois, the unlikeliest medal threat of Canada's speed skating trio in the men's 1,500 metres, captured silver in a penalty-filled competition on Wednesday night in Beijing.
The 24-year-old crossed the finish line in two minutes 9.254 seconds to earn Canada's second silver of these Winter Games and eighth medal overall.
South Korea's Hwan Dae-heon posted a winning time of 2:09.219 while Semen Elistratov of Russian Olympic Committee (2:09.267) collected bronze at Capital Indoor Stadium.
WATCH | Dubois captures 1,500-metre silver in Olympic debut:
In women's action, Courtney Sarault and Alyson Charles are through to Friday's quarter-finals in the 1,000 while fellow Canadian and reigning Olympic silver medallist Kim Boutin led her heat until tumbling near the finish.
Florence Brunelle, Boutin, Sarault and Charles qualified Canada third of four teams for the women's 3,000 relay final on Sunday at 6:44 a.m. ET.
Crossing the line, I knew for sure [I won silver].— First-time Canadian Olympic medallist Steven Dubois
In the men's 1,500 final, Dubois started conservatively in the back of the 10-man field, moved to sixth with nine of the 13 ½ laps remaining and jumped to second with eight laps left. In a frenetic final lap, the Canadian held off Elistratov with an outstretched right leg at the line in a photo finish.
"Crossing the line, I knew for sure [I won silver]. You get a really good feeling of where your blade is when you do finishes like this," Dubois said.
Strong finish to World Cup season
"Once I saw [Elistratov cut to the inside on] the [final] corner I panicked a bit. I knew his finishes [and] his stretches were super good. I had confidence in mine [also and] I just stretched [the leg] as much as I could."
The 15th-ranked Dubois arrived at the Olympics coming off his first individual medal of the season with silver in the 500 to wrap up the World Cup season in Dordrecht, Netherlands.
Dubois' spot in the final was unclear after he appeared to lose an edge fell off the pace in the semifinals, but he was given advancement when 2018 silver medallist Sjinkie Kneght of the Netherlands was penalized.
There was no room for error, Dubois noted, in a wide-open final that was also minus China's Ren Ziwei, this season's World Cup standings leader, after he delivered an arm block in the semifinals. He was trying for a third podium in Beijing after winning mixed team relay and men's 1,000 gold.
"There's no advancement in the finals," said Dubois, who hails from Terrebonne, Que. "I knew I had to be in front, be protective. I found an easy way to the front [pack]. I followed [Dae-heon] and made sure to protect until the end.
WATCH | Full event replay of short track on Day 5:
"He was going so fast. The ice conditions weren't so good, so the pack stretched a bit. I [was able to] defend my second [place position] and finish second."
Dubois started skating at the age of 11 or 12, choosing speed skating over hockey because his parents didn't like the atmosphere in hockey rinks.
"I'm happy they made that choice," he told The Canadian Press. "I don't think I'm Sidney Crosby, but I still have a silver medal at the Games.
"I have been training for the 500 for the whole year, so the 1,500 is not my distance for sure. But I have been having good results for the past three, four years in this distance."
A substitute with the 2018 Olympic team in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Dubois was fourth in the 1,500 at the 2019 world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the following year picked up silver in a triple-medal effort at the Four Continents championships in Montreal.
The South Koreans have stood atop the podium in four of the last five Olympic 1,500 finals. Park Jang-Hyuk, who was considered another strong contender after placing third in the World Cup standings, was seventh on Wednesday.
Canada's Pascal Dion and Charles Hamelin, who won 2014 Olympic gold in the distance, exited earlier in Wednesday's event.
In the first of two semifinals, Dion lost his footing after appearing to be impeded by an opponent or losing an edge, but no penalty was assessed. It only added to a difficult first week in Beijing for the Montreal native who placed 10th in the Olympic 1,500 final four years ago.
- On Saturday, he was part of Canada's mixed relay team that placed sixth after being penalized for a push from behind by Florence Brunelle, who collided with Hungary's Petra Jaszapati.
- Dion was knocked out of the men's 1,000m quarter-finals on Monday after sliding out of his heat while trying to pass on the outside in the first half of the race and registered no time.
Dion ranked No. 1 in the event after reaching the podium three times in four World Cup events this season.
Hamelin, the 37-year-old who put off retirement until after Beijing 2022, stood second early in the third and last semifinal before dropping back after the hand of Italy's Yuri Confortola made contact with the Canadian's right leg on the curve. But the disqualification went to Hamelin, the 14-time world medallist, for making a lane change causing contact.
With five Olympic medals, he needs one to match long tracker Cindy Klassen for the all-time Canadian Winter Olympics record.
WATCH | Hamelin ready for yet another Olympics:
After his race, Dubois had nothing but praise for the veteran Hamelin, who has served as mentor to younger skaters. When he was a young child, Dubois remembered getting his photo taken with Hamelin.
"I have a hard time believing there will be another skater like Charles Hamelin on the national team, at least among the guys," Dubois said. "I don't want to compare myself to Charles because he's a legend. I've very proud of my performances and I know he's also proud."
Meanwhile Boutin, fresh off a repeat Olympic bronze in the 500, seemed a lock to push for another podium in the women's 1,000 until she went down on her own on the final curve of a routine quarter-final.
WATCH | Boutin out of 1,000-metre medal mix after crashing out in quarter-finals:
In the next heat, Sarault of Moncton, N.B., rebounded from a false start to win in 1:27.798 ahead of Hanne Desmet of Belgium. The 21-year-old daughter of former NHL forward Yves Sarault is the world's fifth-ranked women's skater in the 1,000.
Born in Grand Rapids, Mich., the five-foot-nine athlete earned world bronze last year and took silver this past fall in the season-opening and closing World Cup events.
Suzanne Schulting will lead the top-qualifying Netherlands (4:04.133) into the women's relay final. The Dutch topped the World Cup standings this season but have not won Olympic gold, despite owning the world and Olympic records.
South Korea will look to defend its Games title after posting a 4:05.904 qualifying team behind the Canadians, who have reached the podium seven times in eight attempts.