Wednesday 19 February 2014

Twenty Seven Laps Around the Arena

Marianne St. Gelais courtesy 

Canada's short track relay teams have won a medal at every Olympics since the sport was introduced in 1992.  This time it was Marianne St. Gelais, Jessica Hewitt, Valerie Maltais and Marie-Eve Drolet who skated 27 laps to capture silver.

Marianne St. Gelais, the girlfriend of short tracker Charles Hamelin, just turned 24 yesterday.  She had just seen her boyfriend crash in his strongest event the 500 metres.  Now it was her turn to race the 3000 metre relay.  The pressure was on as she had won silver four years ago in that event.  Marianne, one of five children, started skating at the age of 10.  She has a brother and sister who also skate competitively.
Now she lives in Montreal with her boyfriend Charles.

Teammate Jessica Hewitt grew up in Kamloops, British Columbia.  She also won silver in the relay event four years ago in Vancouver.  Now she lives in Montreal like Marianne.

Valeri Maltais has six world championship medals to her credit.  Born in Chicoutimi, Quebec, she started skating at 6 years old.  Sochi marks her Olympic debut.

Marie-Eve Drolet, also born in Chicoutimi, won bronze in the Olympic relay in Salt Lake City in 2002.  She retired from sport the following year to pursue a degree in psychology.  However, she missed skating and returned to the rink in 2007.  She moved away from her family to train at the Olympic oval in Calgary.  The move paid off as she is a three time world champion medallist in the relay event.

Today, the four women lined up for the 3000 metre relay.  For much of the race, they held the third place position behind Korea and China.  The Italians trailed behind in fourth place.  And that is how they ended the race.  However, the Chinese were disqualified, bumping the Canadians up to second.  The Italians clinched third place.  It was a sweet victory for Marianne, helping her to erase the recent memory of her boyfriend falling in the 500 metre race.

 As they found out they won silver, Marie-Eve Drolet, Valerie Maltais, Marianne St. Gelais and Jessica Hewitt, left to right, celebrate at the Winter Games in Sochi on Tuesday.

Photo courtesy

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