The 1000's went of pretty well for the Canadians. Unfortunately, Olivier Jean was dqed. He tried to pass outside to inside and made contact. Other than that all Canadians skated strongly and will skate on Sunday in the quarters.
Olivier's DQ and that of Cho Ha-Ri of Korea on the womens side really showed everyone the value of skating clean in a qualification meet. Their DQ's means that the team as a whole will have to pull together next weekend in order to qualify the full quota of three skaters. This is because qualification happens as a COUNTRY, not as an individual.
For example, Canada's worst result in the men's 1000m next week, regardless of who skates, will count with Olivier's DQ when the combined placings are added up. That means that our third skater will have to have enough points to get in to the top 32 overall after the WCup in Marquette, despite starting with zero, while everyone else starts with their points from this weekend. Therefore, another dq next week by any of the three Canadian skaters eliminates our chance of having three skaters entered in the men's 1000m at the Games.
Our mens team is very strong though and I know that everyone is motivated to go out and get three top results next weekend.
The second half of the day was the relays. Watching this was definitely the most exciting part of the weekend so far. For some countries, the relay is the best chance they have to qualify for the games. That combined with the aspect of the pride of racing as team for your country brought out a lot of emotion. The heats were tight for the second qualifying positions and this brought out good and bad skating. Mistakes can easily be made under the big pressure and they were. Others rose to the occasion and had excellent performance when they needed too.
The most tense moments were once the races were over. On the women's side, Britain and Hungary had an epic battle, with some contact early on causing the Hungarians to go down and the Brits to go off-track. Both teams got back in the race, but the Brits had a substantial lead. With three laps to go, it looked like the Hungarians would be hard pressed to close the gap and they put their top skater Hiedum Bernadett out to do three laps (almost never done). She was closing fast on the British who completed their last exchange with 2 laps to go (normal). As Bernadett went to pass, she collided with the British skater who had given the relay push to their anchor. She fell, essentially ending the race for them. But wait, they had to wait for the refs decision. Both teams waited anxiously on the ice, and in the end the British were DQ'ed. They were crushed, the Hungarians elated. The emotions and pressure of Olympic Qualifications personified.
Finals today in the 1500 and 500. Come out and support the Canadians if you are in Montreal or watch live on CBC 5pm EST, 3pm MST.