Hamelin's dreams put on ice
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
Charles Hamelin shows his disappointment after being eliminated from the qualifying heats in the 1,500-metre short track competition at the Vancouver Olympics Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010. (DANIEL MALLARD/QMI AGENCY)
VANCOUVER — Charles Hamelin’s dreams of making Canadian history evaporated before a packed Pacific Coliseum Saturday night.
Widely considered one of the top threats to bring home the first-ever gold on Canadian soil, Hamelin didn’t even make the final, edged out in his semifinal by American star Apolo Anton Ohno and Jung-Su Lee of Korea. The top two in each of three semis advanced to the final.
But the 25-year-old from Levis, Que., vowed to put the race behind him and be back for another shot at the podium.
“I’m good at it,” Hamelin said of shaking off adversity. “I’ll go back in the Village and start to think about what I do next.”
Even though he’s generally stronger in the 500- and 1,000-metre events, Hamelin desperately wanted to hit the podium in the 1,500, after a fourth-place finish in Turin four years ago.
Asked if the expectations on him were unfair, he didn’t hesitate.
“No. I was one of the hopes for Canada,” he said. “It happens so fast. The decisions I made maybe were wrong. But I know what I did and how to correct it in the next race.”
Hamelin will get two chances to redeem himself, as he holds the world record in the 1,000 and won the 500 at the last world championship.
Canadian Olivier Jean, on the other hand, got a break in his semifinal — although it didn’t appear that way at first.
In second place just past the halfway mark, Jean fell and appeared to be done. The judges, though, ruled he was interfered with, gave him a pass into the final and gave a crowd of 14,000-plus hope for a Canadian podium finish, after all.
Jean received a huge ovation, starting on the outside lane before quickly moving up with the front-runners in the traditional early game of cat-and-mouse.
The 25-year-old Quebecer actually held the lead for a while, but fell back and couldn’t keep pace with eventual winner, Lee of Korea. A crash on the final turn wiped out two skaters and vaulted Jean into fourth.
The silver went to Ohno, his sixth career medal, the bronze to American J.R. Celski.
Jean wasn’t considered as strong a medal threat here, and was happy with how his day went.
“I’m not going to change anything,” he said. “I’m feeling really confident.”
He’ll also race the 500 and 1,500.
Meanwhile, Canada’s women’s relay team punched its ticket to the 3,000-metre final, finishing second in a semi.