The world's best short track speed skaters were back in action this weekend in Kolomna, Russia for the fourth and final stop of the 2013-2014 Samsung ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series. This event serves as an all-important second of two 2014 Olympic Winter Games Qualifying competition for these skaters.
The first two days of racing saw the skaters competing through the qualifying rounds for all of the individual and relay events. Today the skaters were competing towards the finals of both the 1500m and 500m for both the Ladies and Men.
The Ladies' 1500m final was won by Suk-Hee Shim of Korea, for a second consecutive weekend, allowing her to clinch the World Cup title for the distance. Although seven skaters qualified for the final, only six started; Elise Christie (Great Britain) was the non-starter. Shim led for the bulk of the race, with Valerie Maltais (Canada) and Yang Zhou (China) right behind her throughout. In the end, Maltais finished second while Zhou was third. In terms of the overall distance ranking, the second and third place finishers were Alang Kim (Korea) and Zhou.
The Men's 1500m final saw J.R. Celski of the United State take the victory, his first individual World Cup win of the season. Although Celski led the second half of the race, the win did not come easy, with Victor An (Russia) right on his heels. The final result required a photo-finish review to confirm Celski's win ahead of An. Thibaut Fauconnet of France finished in third place. Despite finishing in 11th position today in the event, Charles Hamelin (Canada) earned enough points to clinch the World Cup title for the distance. Han-Bin Lee (Korea), who finished sixth today, ended up in second place in the overall ranking for the distance, while An clinched third place with today's performance.
The Ladies' 500m event was once again dominated by Meng Wang (China) who won her third consecutive 500m final this season. Her team-mate Kexin Fan was a very close second, while Suk-Hee Shim finished third, to earn her second podium finish of the day. The win allowed Wang to take back the lead and clinch the overall World Cup title for the distance, with Fan finishing second. Arianna Fontana (Italy) who finished 23rd today, concludes the World Cup series in third place overall.
On the Men's side, the Russian fans were delighted to see a one-two finish for the home skaters: Victor An, in his second podium finish of the day, finished first ahead of his team-mate Vladimir Grigorev. Dajing Wu (China) took third place. The win allowed An to regain the lead and clinch the World Cup distance title, while Charles Hamelin, who ranked 16th today, concludes the World Cup series in second place. The third-place rank goes to Grigorev.
Racing resumes tomorrow with the 1000m and Relay events for both the Ladies and Men.