Canada is rich in talent, but only a select few will make team
By Terry Bell, The ProvinceJuly 6, 2009
The stands will be empty and there'll be no medals at stake when Canada's short track speed skating team hits the Pacific Coliseum ice next month.
But that doesn't mean Kamloops product Jessica Hewitt can't define it as the most important competition of her still young career.
"It's going to be crazy," the 22-year-old Hewitt said of the Canadian Olympic trials that are scheduled for Aug. 9-18. "There are so many girls and it's like the biggest competition of my life."[...] Edmonton native Jessica Gregg, Canada's female skater of the year for 2008-09, had her own breakout season with a World Cup win in Bulgaria, a third-place finish at Salt Lake City and then a bronze medal in the 500 at the world championships in Austria.
Then there's the strong Quebec contingent that includes Anne and Valerie Maltais, Kalyna Roberge and Marianne St. Gelais, a 19-year-old junior from St. Felicien, who took a silver medal at the Vancouver World Cup last October. She finished her season with a win in the 500 at world juniors.
The competition could be even tougher on the men's side.
Charles Hamelin, 25, of Ste. Julie, Que., has secured an Olympic berth on the strength of his overall third- place finish at 2009 worlds.
[...] That's not the case for Olivier Jean and Francois-Louis Tremblay. [...] "There are only four spots left and I think there are probably 10 guys who could earn a spot," said Jean, who started slowly last season after missing the 2006-07 season when he lacerated a tendon in his leg with a skate.
"There are so many guys on our team who have been to the Olympics before, won medals at world championships and World Cups," he said. "We have a really strong field, but that means we're going to have a strong team for the Games, so that's only good news for Canada."
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