Kim Boutin had thought about walking away from Short Track Speed Skating at the end of the 2018/19 season. She wasn’t particularly enjoying herself in a sport that had dominated her life from the age of six. “I told my coach I needed something new, to have more fun, and see if I still enjoyed Short Track Speed Skating,” the Canadian said.
Boutin decided to train in the Netherlands for part of the summer – and the change of scene did her a power of good. She rediscovered why she does what she does best. “Of course, I still love Short Track,” she said after her trip. “I’m lucky to be part of something that not a lot of people can do.”
Kim Boutin (CAN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (USA) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Boutin returned to the sport as an athlete transformed. At the Utah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City, during the first ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating meeting of the 2019/20 season, the then 24-year-old shattered the 500m World Record, becoming the first woman to complete the distance in under 42 seconds.
Her stunning time of 41.936 seconds beat the previous mark of 42.335 seconds, set by Great Britain’s Elise Christie three years earlier.
“I’ve worked a lot on the tools I need to be a World Champion,” Boutin said of the achievement. “But I’m not really a results person, I’m not focused on that. I want to go step by step. Every time I jump on the ice I want to win. I’m not going to hold back.”
Kim Boutin (CAN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (GER) 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
It was the start of a great few months for Boutin: in Salt Lake City she won the 500m and 1500m; a week later in Montreal, she scooped 1000m and 500m gold. Boutin was also victorious in the 500m at the Nagoya, Shanghai and Dresden ISU World Cups.
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Injury hampered her mid-season somewhat – Boutin was disappointed to miss the ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships debut on home ice in January – but she did enough to finish 2019/20 as the No.1-ranked 500m racer. Trying to catch her next term will be tough.