Short-track silver a true team effort

The Canadian short-track women's relay team has always been made up of five members.

The difference this time around is all five are wearing silver medals.

Anouk Leblanc-Boucher didn't compete in the preliminaries or semifinal of the 3,000-metre relay and needed to get on the Palavela ice yesterday to get her medal.

The bronze medallist in the 500 metres skated in the final, replacing Amanda Overland.

Korea won the race in a time of four minutes, 17.04 seconds. The Canadians, the reigning world champions, crossed the line in 4:17.34.

Leblanc-Boucher said her silver meant more than the bronze because it was a team effort.

"Now we can all be happy together," the Prevost, Que., native said. "We always have five girls that can do it. The results would have been the same if it was Amanda (a Kitchener native)."

Leblanc-Boucher, Overland, Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., Kalyna Roberge of St-Etienne de Lauzon, Que., and Tania Vicent of Laval all stood on the podium.

"It's a hard thing . . . to be taken out, but it's the thing that must be done if we want five girls to win a medal," Vicent said.

Overland and Krauss moved to Montreal to train full time with the other three women.

"We needed to stick together and train as a team to attain this silver medal," Leblanc-Boucher said.

The Italians won the bronze after China was disqualified for blocking Italy on the last exchange.

"It was hard to be on the outside," said Tianyu Fu, a veteran of the Chinese team. "Everyone was pushing. There is nothing we could have changed. We prepared very well and believed in us. Mistakes happen."

Fu was the overall World Cup champion in the 2002-03 season.

The short-track relay medal was the 100th awarded at these Games and Italy's 10th -- the country's first in Olympic women's short-track.

Canadian rookie Roberge, 19, was the best skater for her squad. Twice she moved Canada to second spot from third during the 27-lap race.

Roberge, a former figure skater, said she was hoping to be even more aggressive.

"I really wanted to go from third to first," she said.

Vicent added that "Kalyna might be small, but know that skaters are afraid of her."

The medal continues Canada's streak of reaching the podium in the relay since it was first contested in 1992-- a gold, two silvers and two bronze medals.

The women complained about the lack of coverage given their sport, other than during the Olympics.

"We would like to see more (short-track) World Cups on TV and we don't. You see all of the other sports," Leblanc-Boucher said.

"Our sport gets forgotten about a little bit during the four years leading up to the Games," Krauss said.

Four Canadians qualified yesterday for quarter-finals on Saturday -- Eric Bedard and Francois-Louis Tremblay in the men's 500-metres and Vicent and Overland in the women's 1,000 metres.