ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dresden (GER) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Short Track fans are in for a real treat this weekend with Europe’s champions, fresh from a thrilling event in Dordrecht earlier this month, taking on the best of the rest as the 2018/19 ISU World Cup Short Track season makes its penultimate stop in Dresden, Germany from February 1-3.
Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) Dae Heon Hwang (KOR) Shaoang Liu (HUN) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships (CAN)2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Leading the charge for the Europeans are Hungary’s Liu brothers who once again look likely to grab center stage. Between them the irrepressible duo claimed an astonishing four out of five gold medals at the 2019 European Championships and already have three individual World Cup victories to their names so far this season.
With China’s sprint sensation Wu Dajing absent – the winner of three of the four 500m World Cup golds contested in 2018/19 has not been named in the squad for Dresden – and double Olympic medalist Sjinkie Knegt (NED) injured, both Shaolin Sandor Liu and younger brother Shaoang Liu will be confident of adding to their trophy cabinet.
Samuel Girard (CAN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (KAZ) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
A rejuvenated Samuel Girard (CAN) is liable to have something to say about that. The PyeongChang 2018 1000m Olympic champion kickstarted his season in style by winning gold in the 500m and the 2000m Mixed Relay and silver in the Men’s 5000m Relay in December’s World Cup meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Girard has credited new national coach Eric Bedard with refreshing his love of the sport and the 22-year-old has publicly targeted more success in Dresden. As always, if he does want to top the podium, the Canadian will have to find a way past a formidable phalanx of Korean skaters.
Lee June Seo (KOR) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (KAZ) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Lee June Seo (KOR) currently leads the 1500m season-standings, after two silvers and a bronze, while compatriot Kim Gun Woo, gold medal winner in Almaty, sits second. With PyeongChang 2018 500m silver medalist Hwang Dae Heon finishing third in the 1500m last time out – part of a Korean clean-sweep – the Men’s distance races in Dresden look like being a real highlight.
Semen Elistratov (RUS) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dresden (GER) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Elsewhere, keep an eye out for Semen Elistratov. He may not have done much in the World Cup yet this season but on the back of winning the 1000m gold in Dordrecht, his seventh European title, the ever-willing Russian is bang in form.
Sofia Prosvirnova (RUS) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships (CAN)2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Following a strong European Championships for the Russian team, Elistratov’s teammate Sofia Prosvirnova looks likely to be in the shake-up for medals on the Ladies’ side. The 21-year-old has yet to top the podium in an individual event this World Cup season but having claimed a European gold, two silvers and a bronze Prosvirnova’s confidence is sky high.
Choi Min Jeong (KOR) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (KAZ) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Despite this the Russian will have to go some way to break up the battle between the Republic of Korea’s Choi Min Jeong and Dutch star Suzanne Schulting over 1500m. Choi is the Olympic champion over the distance and won World Cup gold in both Almaty and Salt Lake City this season, while Schulting is the 1500m European champion and took World Cup glory in Calgary in November.
Natalia Maliszewska (POL) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dresden (GER) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
The riveting match-ups keep coming on the Ladies’ side with the 500m final certainly one to set your alarm clock for. Poland’s Natalia Maliszewska, the newly crowned European sprint queen, currently tops the World Cup rankings but Petra Jaszapati (HUN), 500m winner in Almaty, and the Netherlands’ Lara van Ruijven are among those gathered close behind.
Guo Yihan (CHN) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships (CAN)2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
As on the Men’s side, the Chinese have named a young team with four Juniors joining Senior Ladies Guo Yihan and Qu Chunyu. The 20-year-old Alyson Charles leads a similarly youthful Canadian Ladies’ team, having already claimed three individual World Cup podium places this season. While USA sensation Maame Biney arrives in Dresden fresh from smashing the Junior 500m World Record en route to winning gold at the 2019 Junior World Championships in Montreal, Canada last week.
Anna Seidel (GER) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (USA) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Germany’s Anna Seidel, who broke a vertebra in 2016, carries much of the home hope. The Dresden resident won World Cup silver in the 1000m in Salt Lake City in November.
This weekend’s racing will feature 500m and 1500m races and two 1000m races for both genders. There will be a 3000m Ladies’ Relay, 5000m Men’s Relay and a 2000m Mixed Gender Relay. World Cup points will be scored, determined by finish.
This season’s World Cup action concludes in Torino, from February 8-10.