As Suzanne Schulting (NED) continued her medal haul in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Sunday, securing the lead in the over the overall world ranking, Petra Jaszapati's (HUN) first individual World Cup victory was more of an upset. The 500m gold was perhaps most surprising for the 19-year-old herself.
Suzanne Schulting (NED) celebrates another victory at Halyk Arena © International Skating Union (ISU)
“It was my first (individual) A final of the season and I did pretty good yesterday in the (1500m) B also, so I wanted to just enjoy it and it happened and it was really good,” she said.
“I want to train even harder to have this feeling more often.”
Tired from months of hard training and feeling far from a medal candidate, Jaszapati had not even brought the hoodie that she needed to wear at medal ceremonies.
“I left it in the hotel because I was like, ‘Meh, let’s see what will happen today’ but didn’t expect a medal at all,” she said.
“My hoodie looks so big on the pictures because I had to borrow one from Shaolin (Liu Shaolin, HUN) so it was like a pyjama on me.”
Rather than becoming a reminder to always bring suitable clothes for medal ceremonies, Jaszapati joked that she might never bring her hoodie to competitions again.
“Maybe that was my lucky charm,” she said.
(L-R) Lara van Ruijven (NED), Petra Jaszapati (HUN) and Natalia Maliszewska (POL) after winning the Ladies' 500m © International Skating Union (ISU)
She led the final from start to finish, crossing the line more than seven seconds clear of Lara van Ruijven (NED) after the Dutch silver medallist, Natalia Maliszewska (POL) and Sofia Prosvirnova (RUS) crashed in the last lap, disqualifying the Russian.
The event’s World Cup leader Maliszewska had no problems settling for third place, having secured two 500m victories at the previous World Cup weekends, in Calgary – where two 500m events were held – and Salt Lake City.
“This is Short Track and I know things can happen like today,” she said.
“I’m happy with my bronze and I’m happy with the girls, we were laughing and smiling and we were happy. This is my journey that starts and I’m happy to be in a final again because we’ve had four finals in 500m this season and I’ve been in all of them.”
The 23-year-old said she could hardly feel her legs, exhausted after having to repeat her 500m semifinal because of a crash and having qualified for her first-ever 1000m final the previous day.
“I’m fresh and not as good of an athlete yet, so I need to get used to things like this. Being in the final is also a big thing for me and I’m trying to do my best and trying new things but this is Short Track and you can’t decide the future,” she said.
“I’m happy that I have the chance to be in the top and be marked in yellow on the start list (as the World Cup leader). It’s an amazing feeling but I think that races like this will make me feel and be a better skater because this is how everyone’s journey starts. I will be consistent soon, in the future, but for now it’s a process.”
Choi Min Jeong (KOR) celebrates winning the Ladies 1500m (2) © International Skating Union (ISU)
In the weekend’s second Ladies’ 1500m final, the top duo was more expectedly the two overall World Cup leaders Choi Min Jeong (KOR) and Suzanne Schulting, who battled it out in the last two laps, Choi finishing first in 2:28.264, 56 thousands of a second clear of Schulting.
The Dutchwoman was going to get her revenge in the Ladies’ 3000m Relay, where this season’s two outstanding skaters faced each other in a gold-medal sprint. As Schulting passed Choi in the last meters of the race, the Korean fell and had to be taken to hospital.
“I think it was a really good race and two really good last laps,” said Schulting, who now tops the overall World Cup ranking.
After celebrating a successful Almaty campaign with her teammates, Schulting honored her rival Choi, hoping for more hard battles with her this season.
“I was a little emotional because I felt really bad for her but hopefully she is fine,” Schulting said.
“She is an absolutely great racer and it’s great to race against her, so it makes it even more special to beat her.” Despite the incident, Choi leaves Alamty with one gold and two silver medals.
Kim Boutin (CAN) finished behind the two rivals in the 1500m (2) and led her Canadian team of Danae Blais, Alyson Charles and Camille de Serres-Rainville to a bronze in the Relay. She Boutin won gold in the 2000m Mixed Relay final together with Charles, Blais and Samuel Girard (CAN).
For full results click here.