Highs and lows from the first World cup event of the season in short track ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


2 octobre 2017

Highs and lows from the first World cup event of the season in short track

By Carl Savard
Photos by Martin Holtom

Even though casual sports fans usually check short track speed skating more carefully once every four years during the Olympics, World cup season is worthy of any sports fan’s attention. While during regular season the World cup circuit is a bit more focused on skaters individually, in an olympic season like this year the national pride is definitely the main focus. Countries are battling it out to qualify for as many spots as they can for the Olympics. Even though it is just the beginning of the season, the results of the first leg of the World cup held last weekend in Budapest could be an indicator of the forces that will collide at the Olympic games. Here is a resume of the highs and lows of this action packed competition.

It would be impossible to talk about this first weekend of competition without starting with the domination of Korea. When it was announced that the 2018 Olympic games would be in South Korea, the entire short track community was excited by the fact that the biggest show on earth would be in a country where short track speed skating is king. Out of twenty available medals, Korea won eleven in this first World cup event. On the men’s side, Hwang Dae Heon and Lim Hyo Jun got on the podium together on every individual distances. On the women’s side, Choi Min Jeong said she was not feeling at her best while Shim Suk Hee got penalised on one distance and fell in another both time battling with Canada’s Valérie Maltais. Still, Choi finishes with four gold medals and Shim won one gold and one bronze. Just thinking of them doing so well without being totally focused and adding that to the men’s results is a scary thought for all the other nations competing against them.

Canada and China
If the historical podium of the sport still places Canada and China in the top three countries alongside Korea, this first competition went smoother for the Maple Leaf than the Middle Kingdom. Canadian athletes were able to gather four medals thanks to Kim Boutin who won silver medals on the 1500m and 1000m. Both relay teams also won a medal with the men’s team offering quite a show coming back from behind to win gold. The women won silver. As for China, Han Tianyu won bronze on the 1000m and the men’s relay team won silver. Chinese fans probably were hoping for more from their stars Wu Dajing and Fan Kexin.

The ISU circus was in town this weekend and with the young and talented athletes who are part of the hungarian national team, the local fans were surely hoping for a great show from their favorite stars and they were not disappointed. As always, Liu Shaolin Sándor brought his showmanship qualities to the rink being of every battles and winning gold on 500m Saturday. A risky pass resulting in a penalty may have prevented him from winning another medal, but overall he gave the fans a show. His brother Liu Shaoang did not have the same weekend. He never looked comfortable on the ice and it showed in the results. He collided with Charles Hamelin on the semi-final of the relay, was knocked down by Thibaut Fauconnet in the 1500m final and fell by himself in the semi-final of the 1000m on Sunday. On the women’s side, keep an eye on the young upcoming star Petre Jaszapati.

You can not think of being on the edge of your seat watching short track without thinking of the Dutch Sjinkie Knegt. Once again he was up there with the bests and ends the weekend with the bronze in the 1500m. He did not skate as much from the back this time around but still was efficient. A penalty in the 1000m final prevented him from winning a second individual medal. On the women's side, Suzanne Schulting looked like she had been kept in a cage since last year and was too excited to be out. Her energy will always be part of who she is as a skater but she will have to regroup and pace herself if she wants her enormous talent to shine. She started the competiton with two penalties on the first day and finished the meeting in Budapest with four penalties on four distances.

An injury to world champion Elise Christie and a few mishaps from her teammate Charlotte Gilmartin (a few falls and some blades problems) cast a shadow on this first weekend for Team GB. Christie still managed to get on the podium winning bronze on 1000m. As for the men’s team, it is definitely in rebuilding mode.

Other informations
Russia’s women relay team was able to take advantage of their presence in the A final, mainly due to the Dutch team being penalised in the semi-final. They are going home with a bronze medal from Budapest.

Both japanese relay teams competed in the A finals and the men’s ended up finishing third. The japanese program has been on the rise for a few years now. It is probably fair to say their canadian coach Jonathan Guilmette has something to do with this.

Australia sure is not a dominant force in short track speed skating and we definitely need to salute Deanna Lockett for winning the bronze medal in the 1500m.

Italian star Arianna Fontana, who knows a thing or two about getting on a podium, won silver in the 500m.

I am pretty sure we can count on Team France to have a better weekend in Dordrecht following a difficult one in Budapest.

The relay event in Hungary was competed by 18 different countries on the women’s side and 20 on the men’s side of the competition.

43 countries were represented in this first leg of this year’s World cup circuit, an all time high in short track.

Relive the action with this souvenir video!

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