The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating season concludes in Dordrecht, Netherlands from 14-16 February – the final event on the calendar before the all-important ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in March.
Who will finish overall champion in the 500m, 1000m, 1500m categories, and ranked No.1 for the season? It’s a particularly difficult call in the Men’s field, with several racers staking their claim, but a fine run of form in the second half of the season from Republic of Korea’s Park Ji Won has made him the man to beat.
Park Ji Won (KOR) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (JPN) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Park, 23, has been competing on the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating circuit for five years and has always been a consistent performer, accumulating three ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating golds in previous seasons. This term, however, he has kicked up a notch and won an extraordinary five individual golds: one in Montreal, two in Nagoya and two in Dresden – all in the 1000m or 1500m. It has left him the top-ranked athlete over both distances, and No.1 overall going into the Dutch meeting, but he faces stiff competition from compatriots Hwang Dae Heon (KOR) over the 1000m, and Lee June Seo (KOR) in the 1500m.
Shaolin Sandor Liu and Shaoang Liu (HUN) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
There will also be a fearsome challenge from Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) – currently ranked No.1 in the 500m but also able to compete over 1000m – and his brother Shaoang Liu (HUN), who has just become overall ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Champion.
Steven Dubois (CAN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (GER) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Brilliant young Canadian skater Steven Dubois is also sharpening up at the right time, winning his first individual ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating gold in the 500m in Dresden last weekend, while Ren Ziwei (CHN) is looking faster than ever too, securing only his second ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating individual gold in the 1500m in Germany. Wu Dajing (CHN) remains a contender over 500m too.
All in all, it’s one of the most open fields possible.
Sjinkie Knegt (NED) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (KAZ) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
The weekend should also be notable for an emotional comeback. Sjinkie Knegt (NED) has been one of the top male skaters of the last decade, winning two Olympic medals and the 2014/15 ISU World and European Short Track Speed Skating Championship titles. But in December 2018 he suffered a freak injury in which he crushed his leg with a forklift truck, and a fortnight later he sustained severe burns at his home. The injuries have kept Knegt out of action for over a year but he will be welcomed back by the Short Track Speed Skating family in Dordrecht.
On home ice, form skater Schulting will feel confident of finishing the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating season ranked No.1. In 2018/19, the Dutch powerhouse finished at the top of the rankings for the first time in her career, and she is well positioned to repeat the feat.
suzanne Schulting (NED) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (USA) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Schulting is currently top-ranked in both the 1000m and 1500m, and has started winning 500m races in 2019/20 too. It hasn’t been easy going, however. Boutin, who trained pre-season with Schulting, outshone her in early ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating meetings before being slowed by injury.
Kim Boutin (CAN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (CHN) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
The Canadian returned to action in Dresden last weekend, however, and didn’t look like she had lost any momentum, winning the 500m in imposing style. She will surely push Schulting all the way in the 1000m and 1500m too.
Both racers will be looking over their shoulder for Choi. The 21-year-old is the most decorated female skater of the last decade, winning the overall ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championship title in three of the last five seasons. Schulting took the title in 2019/20, however, and Choi looked a shadow of her former self at the beginning of this term.
Choi Min Jeong (KOR) at the ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
The real Choi has reappeared over the last couple of meetings. She swept the medals at the new ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships, and in Dresden she resembled the lethal Choi of old, winning the 1500m with a trademark late burst of blistering pace. While she won’t make up enough points to top the rankings, Choi has declared her intentions to peak at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in front of her home crowd, and will no doubt be hitting top speed in the Netherlands.
Who else might get in the mix?
Martina Valcepina (ITA) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (USA) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Where to watch and follow the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating 2019/20?
Viewers will be able to watch via their national broadcaster/channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel. You will find the full list in the Where to watch news here.
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Highlights, clips, interviews, behind the scenes:
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For further information on ISU Short Track Speed Skating visit: https://www.isu.org/short-track.
ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating Series events 2019/20: