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Canada misses out on podium after short track relay confusion

Valerie Maltais, of Canada, falls as teammate Kim Boutin tries to help her as they compete in the women's 3,000m short track speed skating relay during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Gangneung, South Korea on Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
Valerie Maltais, of Canada, falls as teammate Kim Boutin tries to help her as they compete in the women's 3,000m short track speed skating relay during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Gangneung, South Korea on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canada was penalized in the women’s 3,000-metre relay event at the 2018 Winter Olympics and missed out on a podium spot.

The team, Jamie Macdonald, Kasandra Bradette, Kim Boutin, Marianne St-Gelais and Valerie Maltais, was off to a good start, remaining near the front for most of the race in a tightly-packed group of skaters.

However later in the race, a few skaters, including Canadians, went down and the track was a mess of confusion as the teams struggled to finish. While South Korea’s skaters clearly crossed the line first, it was unclear which countries won the other medals.

Valerie Maltais of Canada, Cecilia Maffei and Lucia Peretti of Italy fall.
Valerie Maltais of Canada, Cecilia Maffei and Lucia Peretti of Italy fall. REUTERS/Phil Noble

The ranks were ultimately determined by the judges after a long discussion as the skaters hung around waiting for a decision.

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South Korea came first, the Italians came second and the teams from Canada and China were penalized and taken out of contention. The Netherlands, which was in the “B” final and therefore not expected to medal, took the bronze.

“I thought we had it,” said Canadian Marianne St-Gelais.

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“I was looking at the screen and I saw third but we got penalized. I thought we had it, I was like, ‘There’s no way we were going to get penalized’ and I was thinking about three different other teams being disqualified before us. I was so happy and then I was like ‘Oh man, we got penalized.'”

St-Gelais wasn’t sure why Canada got a penalty. “The crash (occurred when) the Korean fell. They had an exchange on the side and she fell, so (Valerie Maltais) tried to avoid it, but she couldn’t, so that’s why she fell. So we thought she might be called in that, because she wasn’t stable at all.

“Val did what she could in that situation and the Italian just ran into her, so that part is not our fault, so if we got penalized on that, it doesn’t make sense.”

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Boutin has already won two bronze in the 500-metre and 1,500-metre events.

This is the first time Canada has failed to medal in this event since it was introduced to the Olympics.

Marianne St Gelais of Canada reacts.
Marianne St Gelais of Canada reacts. REUTERS/John Sibley

After the race, Chinese skater Zhou Yang said she didn’t know why China was penalized. “I think there was no problem with what we did,” she said. “Other than we think it’s not fair, there’s really nothing else we can say about (the penalty).”

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