Short Track Speedskating


Charles Hamelin finally claims short track world overall title

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Charles Hamelin won Canada’s first overall title at a world short track speed skating championships in 20 years, bagging the biggest missing prize from his extensive collection this past weekend.

The 33-year-old and four-time Olympian won the 1000m and 1500m at worlds in Montreal en route to the overall crown tallying results from those two events, a 500m and a 3000m.

Hamelin came into the meet as the only male skater in history to win individual gold medals at multiple Olympics yet never claim an overall world title. From 2007 through 2016, Hamelin finished second in the overall three times and third another three times at the annual worlds.

“I was missing two medals [before this year]: Olympic champion in the 1000m and first in overall standings at a world championship,” Hamelin said, according to the International Skating Union. “To win it here in Montreal in front of my family and friends, I’m at a loss for words.”

Hamelin was originally going to retire after worlds but decided in the last month — after failing to finish in the top five in any individual race for the first time at an Olympics and announcing a split with fiancée and triple Olympic medalist Marianne St-Gelais — that he would continue at least through the 2018-19 season.

He won the overall at worlds with 81 points, nearly double the points of silver medalist Liu Shaolin Sándor, who was part of Hungary’s Olympic 5000m relay champion team. South Korean Hwang Dae-Heon took overall bronze with 44 points, one point behind Liu.

The last Canadian to win the world overall title was Marc Gagnon in 1998, the last of his four crowns.

On the women’s side, South Korean Choi Min-Jeong won her third world overall title in four years by claiming 500m, 1500m and 3000m wins. Olympic teammate Shim Suk-Hee was second, followed by Chinese Li Jinyu. South Korean won every female gold medal.

The U.S. went medal-less at a fourth straight worlds and didn’t advance any skaters past the semifinals. Its roster included individual Olympic medalists John-Henry Krueger and J.R. Celski and recently crowned world junior 500m champion Maame Biney.

Viktor Ahn, the six-time Olympic champion left off the list of Russians invited to PyeongChang by the International Olympic Committee, failed to advance past any individual semifinals.

Italian Arianna Fontana, the most decorated short track skater in PyeongChang with a medal of every color, competed only in the relay in Montreal due to emotional exhaustion, according to her social media.

Brit Elise Christie, the 2017 World overall champion, missed the championships altogether after suffering ankle ligament damage in a crash at the Olympics.

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Charles Hamelin changes mind about retirement

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Charles Hamelin, the only Canadian short track speed skater with multiple individual Olympic titles, isn’t retiring after this weekend’s world championships after all.

“Since I’ve returned from the Olympics, I feel like I’m in great shape and I’ve been coming up with new personal bests in training,” Hamelin said in a Wednesday press release. “So I’ve thought about all that and, today, I’m announcing that I am postponing my retirement and that I’ve decided to come back for at least another year. I believe I still have something to give to the new generation of skaters, to the sport of short track and to Canada. I’m looking forward to being in the thick of things this weekend, to representing Canada proudly and to contribute to the team’s medal haul.

“I don’t want to have any regrets in my mind or my heart about the sport,” Hamelin added, according to the Canadian Press. “If I was to quit after these world championships I would have had regrets.”

Hamelin, 33, headlines the Canadian team for worlds in Montreal beginning with qualifying Friday.

Hamelin said before the PyeongChang Olympics, his fourth Winter Games, that he would retire after this season.

Hamelin then struggled individually in South Korea, failing to finish in the top five in any individual race for the first time at an Olympics.

He did break the Olympic record in the 1000m heats and earn a bronze in the relay, giving him five Olympic medals to match retired François-Louis Tremblay and Marc Gagnon for the Canadian short track record. Hamelin also became the oldest male Olympic short track medalist.

Two weeks after the Olympics, Hamelin and his fiancée since 2014, three-time Olympian Marianne St-Gelais, announced their breakup. Hamelin had talked in PyeongChang of starting a family with St-Gelais.

St-Gelais and Hamelin’s younger brother, Francois, have said they will retire after worlds.

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Maame Biney takes gold at world junior short track championships

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Maame Biney, the bubbly 17-year-old on the U.S. Olympic short track team, won the world junior title in the 500m, her best event, in Poland on Saturday.

Biney crossed in 44.305 seconds, edging a Hungarian by .054.

She became the first American to win a world junior title since three-time Olympic medalist J.R. Celski in 2009.

Biney took bronze in the 500m at last year’s junior worlds. She also impressively advanced to the 500m quarterfinals in PyeongChang ahead of a South Korean veteran.

Born in Ghana, Biney moved to the U.S. at age 5 and was raised in Reston, Va., by a single father, Kweku, who previously immigrated to the U.S.

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