Short track skaters gun for podium

By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER -- Canada's short-track speed skaters won't come out and say Turin was a disappointment.

But if they glide out of Vancouver with just four medals again, they're going to face some serious questions.

"We are one of the best teams out here," Charles Hamelin, the team's top medal threat, told QMI Agency. "We improved a lot the last four years. More and more guys can step on the podium. Girls, too. Everyone is ready for this event."

They'd better be.

Because the Americans, Koreans and Chinese will have plenty to say about who hits the podium.

An Olympic rookie in Turin, Hamelin is a contender in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 metres, and Canada is in the top three in the men's relay, where it won silver in Turin.

"Everyone talks to me, saying, 'You are the favourite for the Canadians,' blah-blah-blah" Hamelin said. "It's a position that I'm not used to being."

The native of Levis, Que., says he's embracing it, though, and trying to be the team leader.

He'll get help from Francois-Louis Tremblay, in his third Winter Games.

"Show the world how strong the short-track team is," Tremblay said of the plan. "The podium is the goal for all the skaters here.

"We're aiming for at least six. You never know what can happen. But six is a good number."

Quebec's Kalyna Roberge leads the women's team.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca

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