Canadian Francois Hamelin wins short-track bronze at World Cup event

Canada's Francois Hamelin, left, and Thibaut Fauconnet, of France, race during the men's 500 meters at a World Cup short track speedskating event event Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, at the Utah Olympic Oval, in Kearns, Utah. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

MINSK, Belarus — Canada’s Francois Hamelin earned his first medal of the season, a bronze in the men’s 500 metres on Sunday at the final World Cup stage of the short-track speed-skating season.

Hamelin, from Sainte-Julie, Que., finished behind two skaters from Kazakhstan, Denis Nikisha and Abzal Azhgaliyev, in the 500-metre final. It was his first medal this season and his first on the World Cup circuit since he earned gold and bronze in the two 500-metre events held in Nagoya, Japan, in December 2015.

"I’m happy with how the weekend went. Today’s 500 metres allowed me to make amends for my season, because I didn’t have a great international season," said Hamelin. "It also allowed me to redeem myself after Saturday’s 1,000 metres, where I made some bad decisions which resulted in a penalty.

"I was having a good race until then. Several good skaters weren’t here this weekend, but I’m still happy with the result. It always makes you smile when you win a medal on the circuit after working hard."

Guillaume Bastille of Riviere-du-Loup, Que., qualified for the A final and finished in fourth place in the second 1,000-metre event of the weekend. On Saturday, Bastille took sixth place in the A final of the 1,500 metres.

South Korea’s Yong Jin Lim won the 1,000 metres, followed by France’s Thibaut Fauconnet and Nurbergen Zhumagaziyev of Kazakhstan.

In the women’s relay, Canada took fourth place, finishing behind South Korea by less than a tenth of a second. Russia won gold and Italy collected silver.

"It was crazy," said Valerie Maltais of Saguenay, Que.. "Once again, we were virtually racing with only three skaters because of Kim’s (Boutin) injury. This time, we decided that we should skate in front in the race, contrary to our approach in our earlier races. Unfortunately, the ice wasn’t great and we slipped and lost our balance a lot. If it hadn’t been for that, we would have ended up on the podium."

Maltais teamed up with Jamie Macdonald of Fort St. James, B.C., Kasandra Bradette of Saint-Felicien, and Boutin from Sherbrooke. Que.

In final standings following this season’s six World Cup stages, Canada finished third in the women’s relay. Marianne St-Gelais finished first overall in the 500 metres while Kim Boutin was third in the 1,500 metres, even though both skaters didn’t take part in this weekend’s individual events.