Yang Zhou (CHN), Bianca Walter (GER), Maame Biney (USA), Valerie Maltais (CAN), Tifany Huot Marchand (FRA) ©XIN LI/Getty Images
Fresh from battling for medals at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, the globe’s greatest Short Track Speed Skaters will descend on the Canadian city of Montreal this weekend, looking to add the title of World Champion to their roll of honors. The ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2018 will be held at the Maurice-Richard Arena, 16-18 March.
Men and Ladies will race over three individual distances for World Championship medals (500m, 1000m, 1500m). After the completion of the three distances the top eight-point scorers and ties on the eighth position will skate the 3000m Super Final and the skater with the highest combined points will be crowned overall World Champion. Nations will also compete in the Team Relays over 3000m for Ladies and 5000m for Men.
In total 132 skaters from 37 ISU Members will be travelling to the Montreal for the Championships. The competition, now in its 32nd year, is visiting the Canadian city for the fourth time, having taken place there previously in 1987, 2002 and 2014.
Arianna Fontana (ITA), Minjeong Choi (KOR), Elise Christie (GBR) and Yara Van Kerkhof (NED) © Harry How/Getty Images
Choi (KOR), Fontana (ITA) and Canadians to tussle for Ladies’ title
Reigning Ladies’ World Champion Elise Christie (GBR) will not compete in Montreal after a difficult and injury-plagued Olympic Games, meaning a new winner is guaranteed this weekend.
Choi Minjeong (KOR) will be hotly tipped to capitalize: still just 19 years old, the Korean sensation is already a double overall World Champion, having won the title in 2015 and 2016. Choi also arrives in Canada full of confidence thanks to the two Olympic gold medals she has just grabbed in her homeland: the 1500m and 3000m relay.
Her main overall rival is likely to be Italian legend Arianna Fontana (ITA), who pipped Choi to the 500m gold medal at PyeongChang 2018 in a dramatic photo finish (although Choi was later disqualified for interference). The 27-year-old Fontana has been overall European Champion on seven occasions, and has three overall World Championship medals, too (bronze in 2011 and 2012, silver in 2015). Boosted by her first Olympic gold, the Italian will be hopeful of finally adding World Champion to her impressive CV.
Canada’s competitors should also be optimistic on home ice: look out for Marianne St-Gelais (CAN), who won World Championships gold in the 1500m in 2016, and Kim Boutin (CAN), who got a silver (1000m) and two bronze medals (500m and 1500m) at PyeongChang 2018.
In the Ladies’ relay, Republic of Korea, Italy, Netherlands and Canada will all be likely to threaten the podium.
Seo Yi-Ra (#1), Kim Do-Kyoum (187), Kwak Yoon-Gy (188) and Lim Hyo-Jun (189) (KOR) © JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images
Skaters from Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Russia, Canada and Hungary all in mix for wide open Men’s title
The last seven ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships have seen seven different overall winners, and it is tough to pick a favorite for the title in 2018, too.
The Republic of Korea’s racers will almost certainly make some podiums, however. Seo Yi ra (KOR) is the reigning men’s Champion, but will have been disappointed with just a bronze medal in the 1000m to show for his PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. His teammate Lim Hyo-jun (KOR) won 1500m gold at the Games (as well as 500m bronze), while 18-year-old Hwang Dae Heon (KOR) looks like one to watch after and impressive silver in the 500m at PyeongChang 2018.
China will be competitive: Tianyu Han (CHN) was overall World Champion in 2016 and with some strong team mates.
#2 Charles Hamelin (CAN), #144 Victor An (RUS), #6 Wu Dajing (CHN), #159 Sin Da Woon (KOR), #1 Seo Yi Ra (KOR), #62 Sjinkie Knegt (NED), #7 Samuel Girard (CAN)©Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
A strong charge from the European and North American racers should also be expected. 2015 World Champion Sjinkie Knegt (NED) has been in sparkling form all season and bagged an Olympic silver medal in the 1500m at PyeongChang 2018, while Samuel Girard (CAN) won Olympic 1000m gold, and Charles Hamelin (CAN) can never be ruled out.
You can never write off Viktor An (RUS), either: the Russian has had a disappointing season but he is still a six-time World Champion (2003-2007, 2014) who can produce impeccable performances on the day.
In the relay, expect Republic of Korea, China, Canada, Netherlands, Russia and Hungary to all contend.