Duffy skates to podium at university winter games

2013_winter_universiade_logoTRENTINO, Italy – Canada had its best day of the 26th Winter Universiade on Thursday (Dec. 19) with three medals, including two silvers in short track speed skating and a bronze in men’s curling.

The red and white delegation had picked up its first podium finish of the Games the previous day with a bronze in short track and has two more days to add to its tally.

On Friday, the Canadian women’s hockey team goes for its third straight FISU gold, the men’s hockey squad battles Russia in the semi-finals, while the short track competition concludes with the individual 1000-metre events and the men’s relay final.

In short track on Thursday, Caroline Truchon of Saguenay, Que., and Patrick Duffy of Oakville, Ont., claimed silver in the 500m as Canada also set a pair of Universiade records.

Truchon was solid from start to finish on her way to the podium, taking second place in her heat (46.516) before winning her quarter-final (44.611) and semifinal (45.092). In the championship race, the Collège de Rosemont student crossed the line in 44.834 seconds, just behind China’s Xue Wang (44.713) and Agne Sereikaite of Lithuania (45.044).

Duffy, a Concordia University student, not only won his first four sprints of the day en route to the final, he clocked 41.433 in the heats to register a new FISU Games record. His mark would only stand for an hour however as Lee Hyo Been, the eventual gold-medal winner from South Korea, posted a time of 41.383 in the semis.

In the final, Hyo Been crossed the line in 41.642, followed by Duffy (41.917) and Shi Jingnan of China (42.025).

“I was a bit nervous before the final. There were a lot of big guys on the line,” Duffy said. “I kind of blacked out during the race so I can’t really tell you what happened but I came away with second place, so it’s fantastic.”

The relay semi-finals followed the 500m individual races and the two Canadians teams obtained opposite results, with the men qualifying for the A final in Universiade record time and the women settling for third place in their group and a spot in the B final.

The men’s foursome of Duffy, Yoan Gauthier of Rivière-du-Loup, Qué., Sébastien Landry of Montreal and 2010 Olympic gold medallist Guillaume Bastille of Rivière-du-Loup posted an eye-popping 6:51.506 on 5000m.

Meanwhile, the women’s squad of Truchon, Vicky Labourdette of Greenfield Park, Que., Keri Morrison of Burlington, Ont., and Namasthée Harris-Gauthier of Montreal finished with a solid time of 4:13.605 on 3000m but couldn’t quite catch the Hungarian Olympic team, which set a new FISU Games standard of 4:13.353, and China (4:13.446).

In men’s curling, Canada rebounded from a tough 7-4 loss to Great Britain in the morning semifinals to edge Norway 6-5 in an extra end in the afternoon bronze-medal match.

The Canucks had placed fifth two years ago in Erzurum, Turkey.