Athletes perform at the 2022 ISU Junior World Cup Speed Skating in Innsbruck, Austria. © International Skating Union (ISU)
One week before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, the future stars of Speed Skating are about to conclude their international season with the ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Innsbruck (AUT)on January 28-30, 2022. Last week, the juniors finished their ISU Junior World Cup campaign on the same track with the Dutch dominating the rankings, spearheaded by the imperious sprinter Pien Smit.
Pien Smit (NED) performs at the 2022 ISU Junior World Cup Speed Skating in Innsbruck, Austria. © International Skating Union (ISU)
Smit in league of her own
Smit will head into the ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships having won all this season’s 500m and 1000m ISU Junior World Cup races. In the 1000m, she even won all her races by a margin of one second or more. The 17-year-old Dutch sports student will compete in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m as well as Team Sprint races, and she is on the reserve list for the Team Pursuit.
Alina Dauranova (KAZ) (Silver), Pien Smit (NED) (Gold) and Yukino Yoshida (JPN) (Bronze) at the womens 1000m podium during the 2022 ISU Junior World Cup Speed Skating in Innsbruck, Austria. © International Skating Union (ISU)
In the Men’s field, Joep Wennemars led the Dutch medal haul, with a gold in the 1000m and the Team Sprint, as well as a silver in the 500m. The 19-year-old Sprinter is the son of Erben Wennemars, who won the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships twice and collected six World titles in single distances.
The Dutch juniors won eight gold, four silver and one bronze medals at the third and final leg of the ISU Junior World Cup last weekend. The Czech Republic (2G, 1S) came second on the medal ranking and Japan (1G, 2S, 2B) third.
Tim Prins (NED) performs at the 2022 ISU Junior World Cup Speed Skating in Innsbruck, Austria. © International Skating Union (ISU)
The Netherlands also took home most ISU Junior World Cup Trophies, topping the rankings with eight golds, five silver and two bronze. Korea (2G, 1S, 2B) and Kazakhstan (1G, 1S, 2B) were second and third.
Norway has put its hopes on Sigurd Henriksen, the younger brother of 30-year-old Sindre Hendriksen (NOR), who retired from international Speed Skating last December. Seventeen-year-old Sigurd won this seasons ISU Junior World Cup Trophy in the 3000m. Henriksen will not skate the 500m and the 1000m and therefore will not be eligible for the Allround title.
The Men’s Allround competition comprises the 500m, 1500m, 1000m and 5000m. Joep Wennemars will be one of the main contenders, together with Tim Prins (NED) and Emil Pedersen Matre (NOR). The Dutchman and the Norwegian came in first and second in the 1500m ISU Junior World Cup ranking this season and, like Wennemars, they will skate all the Allround distances.
In the Women’s Allround competition, which comprises the 500m, 1500m, 1000m and 3000m, all eyes are on Evelien Vijn (NED), who won the 3000m ISU Junior World Cup trophy, and came second in both the 1500m and Mass Start classifications.
Two years ago
Because last season’s international junior competition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships were last held in February 2020. Femke Kok (NED), who will skate 500m at Beijing 2022 next week, won the 500m, 1000m and Allround titles two years ago in Tomaszów Mazowiecki (POL).
Robin Groot (NED) (Silver), Femke Kok (NED) (Gold) and Alexa Scott (CAN) (Bronze) at the medal ceremony during the 2020 ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland. © International Skating Union (ISU)
Japan and Russia dominated the Men's tournament in 2020, with Stepan Chistiakov (RUS) taking the Allround title, and Tsubasa Horikawa (JPN) on top of the medal table with golds in the 1500m and Mass Start events. The Russian and the Japanese have not been able yet to qualify for international senior races.