SOCHI, Russia (CP) — Charles Hamelin took a step towards becoming the country’s most decorated winter Olympian of all time, and Canada moved a step forward towards its goal of winning the most medals at the Sochi Olympics.
Canada's Charles Hamelin, left, is seen before a warm-up session. Hamelin is expected to make the final and uphold a long-standing Canadian tradition of sprinting excellence. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Amy Sancetta)
Hamelin roared to victory in the men’s 1,500 short-track speedskating race Monday. That gives him four Olympic medals overall, including three gold. Long-track speedskater Cindy Klassen has six career medals, but Hamelin still has three races left in Sochi.
“Of course I want to be on the podium again,” Hamelin said. “But this is short-track and it’s a tough sport.”
The golden performance gave Canada five medals at the Games: two gold, two silver and a bronze. Canada has stated goal is to win the most medals of any country in Sochi.
And there was more medal potential later in the men’s moguls, where defending champion Alex Bilodeau and Canadian teammate Mikael Kingsbury are medal favourites.
Hamelin, from Ste-Julie, Que., will have two more chances to win individual gold in the 500 and 1,000, and he’ll be part of Canada’s team in the 5,000 relay. He won the 500 and was part of the gold-winning relay team four years ago in Vancouver.
Hamelin is expected to compete for gold in those events in Sochi. Winning the 1,500 is an extra bonus, as Hamelin was seventh in the distance in Vancouver.
“It’s not my best distance,” said Hamelin. “But I had a really good start and was able to control the race afterwards. I am looking forward to continue (racing) that strong this week.”
After the race Hamelin went to give a traditional kiss to girlfriend Marianne St-Gelais, who was watching from the stands. The two made waves for their celebratory smooch after Hamelin won the 500 gold in Vancouver.
St-Gelais is a short-track medal threat in her own right, with two silver medals in Vancouver. She also skated Monday, advancing to the quarter-finals in the women’s 500 and the final of the 3,000 relay, along with Marie-Eve Drolet, Jessica Hewitt and Valerie Maltais.
Canada’s men’s hockey team finally arrived in Sochi and had their first practice on Monday, with Jeff Carter right wing alongside captain Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz on the top line.
The women’s hockey team was back in action, taking on Finland.
Canada’s curlers also started their medal quests today, with Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones beating China 9-2 and Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., beating Germany 11-8 before facing Switzerland.
Jones said her teammates had trouble hearing each other while the raucous crowd cheered wildly as Russia took on Denmark three sheets over.
“You can’t really hear very well, but we’ll come up with some solutions to that,” said Jones, who has hand signals worked out — a hand up means stop sweeping — for when the din of the crowd threatens to drown out her directions.
“I thought we did a good job managing it and we’ll figure it out going forward.”
Canada won gold in men’s curling and silver in women’s at the 2010 Vancouver Games.