Four-time consecutive Olympic medalist honoured
By Ryan Ohashi / Photo: Arno Hoogveld
It’s been over two decades since Tania Vicent first arrived at the Olympic Oval to train but the memories have certainly not faded.
"It’s great being back here” said Vicent “When I first arrived and I came in I smelled the Oval, that and a World Cup event like this where you are back in Calgary and seeing everyone it just brings back all these memories.”
On Saturday afternoon Vicent was inducted in the Olympic Oval Hall of Champions, her banner now set to hang along side fellow Canadian Short Track Olympic Medalists Alanna Kraus and Derek Campbell. The Hall of Champions is a celebration of Canadian speed skating athletes who have trained at the Olympic Oval in both Long Track and Short Track skating. The honour is bestowed on those who are Olympic medalists and are now retired from the sport.
“It's a special place [the Oval], you know there was a time where I was going to quit and instead I moved here at 17 years old, trained here for four years and I made my first Olympics team while training here in 1998” said Vicent “And then I went on to 4 Olympic games, so at the end of the day this place salvaged my career in a way - so it's pretty neat.”
Not only a four time Olympian, Vicent skated as a part of the Canadian relay team that claimed 3000m relay medals in four consecutive Olympic games from 1998 to 2010. Individually, she placed fourth in the women’s 1000m in Turin. In Vancouver 2010, she was a veteran in leading a young Canadian team made up of Kalyna Roberge, Marianne St.Gelais and another Oval Hall of Champions honouree Jessica Gregg to a Silver medal. Vicent is one of an elite few Canadian athletes who can lay claim to the honour of being a four-time consecutive Olympic medalist in the same event.
During her illustrious career, the native of Montreal also amassed eight World Championship medals and 17 World Cup medals with number of Canadian relay teams. This included a world title with the 3000m relay team in 2005 and four silver and three bronze medals in the 3000m relay at the world championships from 1995 to 2010 and a silver in the World Team Championships in 2010.
The Quebec native still names Oval Associate Director of Sport Marcel Lacroix as a major influence and close friend. Lacroix coached Vicent as a club skater and would become her first National Team coach with her move to Calgary.
“When I moved to Calgary I was 17 and I was at a breaking point to whether I wanted to pursue skating or not. I told my parents I wasn't sure but Marcel, who I had trained with at the club level, was moving here to coach as it was the National Short Track Centre”
“Marcel made sure I had all the right people around me, they always made sure I felt like a part of the team so I really feel like this place is my second home.” said Vicent “He was my first National team coach and I have a bond with him until this day – I know he couldn't be here today but he sent me a long email this week about how great it is that this is happening.”
Vicent adds with a smile “It's a great relationship where even though we don’t see each other often, when I do see him it's as if I am 17 again.”
Vicent joins Campbell, Kraus, Susan Auch, Kevin Crockett, Kristina Groves, Clara Hughes, Cindy Klassen, Catriona Le May Doan and Jeremy Wotherspoon in the Hall of Champions. As mentioned her 2010 Vancouver teammate Jessica Gregg will be honoured and inducted on Day 3 of World Cup Short Track speed skating at the Oval on Sunday.
Canadian Sarault Claims Silver in 1500m
By Abby Andreasen / Photo: Dave Holland
The lead-up to the Women’s 500m final was unclear as to who would claim the podium. In the quarter final, Polish skater, Natalia Maliszewska, surprised everyone by winning her heat and beating out the favoured winner, Chinese skater, Kexin Fan. Maliszewska made a serious grab for the win with a race time of 42.5, dangerously close to the World Record time of 42.335. In the final A group, Maliszewska came first, in second was Silver Olympic Medalist, Dutch skater, Yara Van Kerkhof and in third was first time World Cup competitor, Canadian, Alyson Charles.
Anticipation built for the Men’s 500m final with the hope that Chinese Skater, Dajing Wu, might just beat his World Record because of his qualification time of 39.7. In the final, he placed first with a time of 39.8, a few short seconds off of the World Record 39.584. In second place was Hungarian skater, Shaoang Liu, and in third place, Korean skater, Gun Woo Kim.
In the Women’s 1500m semifinal , there was a surprise finish as Russian skater, Ekaterina Efremenkova came out of nowhere to overtake Olympic Medalist, Dutch skater, Suzanne Schulting, who had dominated the race. In the final, first-time Canadian World Cup Skater, Courtney Lee Sarault, led the race to a photo finish with Schulting. The final podium featured, Suzanne Schulting in first, Courtney Lee Sarault in second, and in third, Ekaterina Efremenkova.
The Men’s 1500m Final started with three false starts, resulting in two out of three Korean skaters being penalized and thus completely changing the prospects of the race. During the race, French skater, Thibaut Fauconnet and Canadian skater, Pascal Dion, led the race but unfortunately both fell with only two laps left. On the podium were, in first, Japanese skater, Kazuki Yoshingaga, in second, Korean skater, Jun Hyo Lim and in third, Israeli skater, Vladislav Bykanov.
The day capped of with the thrilling semi-finals for the Mixed Gender, Women’s, and Men’s relays. The outcomes in final A for Mixed-Gender Relay were, China, Korea, Netherlands and the United States of America. Tomorrow in Women’s Relay final A the teams will be: Canada, Korea, Russia and Netherlands. In the A final for the Men’s Relay anticipation will be for Canada, Japan, Korea and Netherlands. We will see the final results tomorrow!
Doors open at 8:30AM MDT for the Repechage with the main races and banner reveal set for the afternoon. Tickets are still available for this world class event, be sure to visit the event website: http://oval.ucalgary.ca/worldcup