Racing on the sting: Hamelin says short-track and Method One have similarities

MONTREAL — Charles Hamelin was a few days faraway from changing into Canada’s most embellished winter Olympian and was on his flight house from Beijing.

MONTREAL — Charles Hamelin was a few days faraway from changing into Canada’s most embellished winter Olympian and was on his flight house from Beijing.

Connecting to the airplane’s Wi-Fi midflight, the primary submit that popped up on the short-track speedskater’s cellphone was a congratulatory tweet from Method One celebrity Lewis Hamilton.

Hamelin had raced on the Beijing Olympics in a purple and gold helmet, painted by artist Stacy Glaser, that was each a tribute to his two-year-old daughter Violette and in honour of certainly one of his sporting idols, seven-time world champion Hamilton.

“Love the helmet @Speedskater01. Congratulations on all of your success in Beijing,” Hamilton tweeted to his greater than seven million followers, with a gold-medal emoji. The submit has virtually 64,000 likes.

Hamelin was touched by Hamilton’s kindness. A sporting hero to so many in his personal proper, in that second, the five-time Olympian was simply an overjoyed fan.

“At first I believed no, it is most likely a fanpage. Nevertheless it was actually him,” Hamelin stated. “He is an idol for me, so for him to take the time to reply to me and tweet about it … it simply made me assume he is not solely a fantastic athlete on the monitor to have achieved what he has, however he is additionally a fantastic human.” 

The native of Sainte-Julie, Que., will probably be trackside for this week’s Montreal Grand Prix, as Method One returns to Canada for the primary time since 2019. 

Hamelin was Canada’s flag-bearer — together with girls’s hockey celebrity Marie-Philip Poulin — on the opening ceremony in Beijing, the place he tied long-track speedskater Cindy Klassen’s Canadian Winter Olympic document together with his sixth profession medal — together with 4 gold.

He and Hamilton, F1’s all-time chief in victories with 103, have dominated their sports activities like few others. 

The similarities do not finish there. Each sports activities are about racing on a razor-thin edge between glory and catastrophe. 

Brief-track speedskating, Hamelin stated, is the world’s quickest sport on a flat floor that does not embrace technological assist resembling a motorbike, a automotive, or klap skates (in long-track speedskating). Skaters navigate the tight 111-metre monitor at a gravity-defying 60 kilometres an hour, just about face-to-backside in a tightly packed group.  

“The passes are so tight and also you rely in your opponents to complete the race in your two skates, if there may be somebody doing a loopy cross or one thing harmful, you could be a sufferer of what he is doing, slightly bit like in F1,” stated Hamelin. “You are doing all your factor in your automotive and unexpectedly one thing occurs, a foul cross, a silly transfer from somebody, and if you happen to go into his automotive, nicely your race is finished. 

“When it comes to studying the opponent, like once you wish to cross … and understanding the monitor, learn how to be environment friendly, learn how to be quick, learn how to be defensive, to not be handed by different skaters behind, it is all in the identical mindset and the identical approach of skating. I discover lots of similarity between the 2 sports activities.

“It is like us skating on a rink — however in a automotive at 300 kilometres per hour,” laughed Hamilton, who’s an enormous fan of this season’s new helmet-cam in F1 broadcasts. 

Athletes should be fearless in each sports activities to succeed, Hamelin added.

“For those who’re scared to go in a flip in short-track, you are by no means going to hit your better of one of the best which you can give on the ice, and there’s another person that can give it 100 per cent, and can take your house, and it’s the identical factor in F1,” he stated. “As quickly as you are fearful of going right into a flip or passing somebody, nicely, you are out of the game.”

Hamelin, who has pushed a Lamborghini on a closed racing circuit, has been a Method One fan since fellow Quebecer Jacques Villeneuve, the F1 world champion in 1997, was Canada’s king of auto racing. Hamelin and his brother Francois, additionally a retired short-tracker, and their dad attended the Montreal race most years. They nonetheless watch the races each weekend on TV, texting one another to debate the highlights.

He likes Hamilton not just because he is been such a dominant driver for years, however for a way vocal the Brit is about quite a few social points. 

“He is behind lots of nice causes,” Hamelin stated. “He is not scared of claiming what he is excited about the world.”

Earlier this week, Hamilton defended Sky Sports activities F1 commentator Naomi Schiff, who was bullied on Twitter about her credentials. Schiff, whose mother and father had been Belgian and Rwandan, was an expert race automotive driver.

“She’s been a fantastic asset since becoming a member of & we must always welcome extra consultant broadcasting with open arms,” Hamilton tweeted. “Nonetheless have a protracted method to go to vary these attitudes in sport.”

Hamelin stated life has been busy since he retired after the world championships this previous spring. There’s been loads of media obligations since he capped his illustrious Olympic profession with a gold within the 5,000-metre relay. His sponsor Crimson Bull flew him and Crimson Bull’s different Beijing and Tokyo Olympic gold medallists to the Monaco Grand Prix in late-Might. Hamilton was eighth there.

He’ll be on the Montreal race on Sunday when the collection makes it celebrated return to Canada after being cancelled two straight years attributable to COVID-19.

The next weekend, he and fiancé Genevieve Tardif are lastly getting married after the pandemic cancelled their wedding ceremony plans two years in a row. They’re travelling to South Africa for his or her honeymoon.

Hamilton, in the meantime, will probably be hoping for a podium end in what’s been an off-year for the 37-year-old Mercedes driver. Hamilton has only one podium in eight races, and is sixth within the drivers factors. He was fourth final weekend in Azerbaijan, complaining of utmost again ache afterward.

Hamelin stated he’d love to satisfy the driving force, and even perhaps give him a token of his appreciation.

“It will be an honour for me to present him certainly one of my helmets.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed June 15, 2022.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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