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Canada's Hamelin lets another chance at a fifth career Olympic medal slip away

Canada's Charles Hamelin crashes with Eduardo Alvarez, of the United States, during the men's 1,000 metre quarter-finals in the short track competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics Saturday, February 15, 2014 in Sochi. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

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Canada's Charles Hamelin crashes with Eduardo Alvarez, of the United States, during the men's 1,000 metre quarter-finals in the short track competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics Saturday, February 15, 2014 in Sochi. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

SOCHI, Russia - Charles Hamelin let a chance to add an Olympic medal to his collection slip away Saturday as Canada's short-track speed skating team was shut out once again at the Winter Games.

Hamelin, who started the Games with a gold medal in the 1,500-metre race, fell in his 1,000 metres quarter-final and failed to advance.

"It's really disappointing," said the Ste-Julie, Que., skater known as the Locomotive. "And on top of that, the 1,000 metres is my favourite of the three individual events."

Hamelin went into the Games looking for four medals. He got off to a good start, but then the men's relay team exited in the semifinals when his brother, Francois, slipped on a marker disc and he put himself out of the 1,000 when he lost an edge.

He said his performance had nothing to do with disappointment from the relay disaster.

"I was mentally and physically ready to do well," he said. "Short track can be really fickle.

"Everything can go well at a competition or you can have ups and downs. The important thing is to keep your focus and be mentally strong after you've had a bad day."

His last chance at a medal will be in the 500-metre race, perhaps his best event.

He's one Olympic medal short of the all-time record of five by a Canadian man shared by fellow short trackers Marc Gagnon and Louis-Francis Tremblay.

But suddenly the team's goal of five medals at the Games looks in doubt.

Marianne St-Gelais, who was ousted in the semifinals of the 500 — her best event — this week, lost in the heats of the 1,500, although that's not her best distance.

Marie-Eve Drolet and Valerie Maltais were eliminated in the semifinals, although Maltais won the B-final easily and finished in sixth place.

"That will be good for my morale going into the 1,000 metres," said Maltais.

Drolet, who battled back from a hip fracture suffered in August, finished seventh.

"I would have needed a perfect race to make the final, but I made some little mistakes," said Drolet. "Maybe I wanted it too much and wasted too much energy.

"But still I'm satisfied. I was in a strong semifinal. The first two won medals. But that's not an excuse."

China's Zhou Yang won gold ahead of Shim Suk Hee of South Korea and Arianna Fontana of Italy.

In the men's 1,000, Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que., and Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., didn't get past the quarter-finals.

Cournoyer, a 22-year-old in his first Olympics, said inexperience may have been costly.

"I panicked a bit and didn't react to the passing," he said. "The Olympics are big.

"It's not like the World Cup. Lots of people are watching. You have to learn to manage the stress."

Russia picked up two medals as Victor An won ahead of Vladimir Grigorev. Dutchman Sjinkle Knegt got the bronze.

After the crash in the men's relay Thursday, the Canadian team wrote its frustrations on slips of paper, put them in a bottle, and threw it into the Black Sea in a symbolic gesture aimed at getting to skaters to put their failures behind them.

So far, it hasn't helped.

"Maybe we should throw another bottle in the sea," Drolet joked.

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