Claiming her third consecutive ISU Short Track World Cup 1000m gold medal, Suzanne Schulting (NED) showed her competitors that they will have to work hard to beat her in her favorite event this season.
"Thousand metres is totally my thing right now so I'm really confident to skate it."
Suzanne Schulting (NED) on her way to gold in Almaty 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
The 21-year-old Schulting won gold in the distance at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and has trained even harder over the summer to extend her dominance in the event. She followed up her World Cup triumphs in Calgary, Canada, and Salt Lake City, USA, by going undefeated in heats, quarter-, semi- and final in Almaty.
"My endurance is really high and now I can combine it with a high speed and it works out really well for me," she said.
"I think that this year I'm more of an athlete than last year. My body is more athletic than last year.
"After the (PyeongChang) Games, I thought, 'OK, I won gold in the 1000m, in the next season I want to be really good as well and I want to show the whole world that I’m still good at the 1000m'."
Topping the event's World Cup ranking, Schulting knows she has to work even harder to keep her rivals behind her for the rest of the season.
"It's not like it's coming really easy. I have to be ready all the time and I think that focus is really important and I'm really focused. I think that's why this results in gold again," she said.
Kim Boutin (CAN) celebrates her silver medal 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Kim Boutin, who finished 0.087 seconds behind Schulting, has finished ahead of the Dutch before and is confident she will manage to do it again soon.
"Next race it's going to happen," the silver medalist said with a smile before adding: "I feel that she’s racing really good so it's just nice to race with strong athletes like her."
The second place was Boutin's first World Cup podium position this season as she works her way back into shape. After winning two bronze and a silver – the latter behind Schulting in the 1000m – in PyeongChang, it has taken a while for her to recharge the batteries.
"I had a big break after the Games. It was a big season for me and sometimes it’s better to take it easy and come back stronger," she said.
"It was a big challenge to motivate myself to perform at the first World Cup.
"I think it's normal for athletes to have a little down or a bit less motivation the year after the Games, when you've had your big peak. But when I'm on the ice I feel like Kim's back, Kim is there."
Kim Geon Hee (KOR) leads from the front in the Ladies 1500m final in Almaty 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
For her Korean namesake, Kim Geon Hee (KOR), the PyeongChang Games has served as a motivation – even though she missed the Olympic team. In February Kim sat in the Gangneung Ice Arena in PyeongChang as her countrymen won gold medals in front of a home crowd, deciding to work as hard as she could to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing four years later.
"I wasn't competing in the Olympics but of course it inspired me," Kim said.
Winning the Ladies 1500m final ahead of Ekaterina Efremenkova (RUS) and Li Jinyu (CHN) shows that the eighteen-year-old is on the right track. She was sixth in the first four laps, then slowly made her way to the front, claiming her first ever individual World Cup win 0.18 second ahead of the Efremenkova.
"I have trained a lot, which has helped me. Then I got a good start of the race, thanks to this I could win," she said.
"Now I feel confident and I think it will help me in the rest of the season."
Ekaterina Efremenkova (RUS, ) Kim Geon Hee (KOR) and Li Jinyu (CHN) with their medals 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Her teammate Choi Min Jeong (KOR), who won two gold medals in PyeongChang and tops the overall world ranking, was disappointed as she finished fifth in the 1500m final. However, Korea has much to look forward to on Sunday as the Ladies competition continues in Almaty. Their 3000m relay team, also No.1 in the World Cup this season, won their heat and hope for more glory as Choi, Kim, Noh Ah Rum and Kim Ji Yoo (KOR) take on Netherlands, Canada and Italy in the final.
For full results click here.