It has been a month since the last stop of the 2013-14 Samsung ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series, allowing the world's best to fine-tune their preparation for the upcoming two World Cup events. Racing this weekend at the Palaghiaccio Tazzoli in Torino, Italy, serves as the first of two 2014 Olympic Winter Games Qualifying competitions for these skaters.
Yesterday's and Thursday's racing saw the skaters compete through the rounds of pre-preliminaries all the way to the round of heats for each of the distances. Today the skaters were competing in the finals of the 1500m and 500m for both the Ladies and Men.
The Ladies' 1500m was won by Suk-Hee Shim of Korea, which allows her to move into first place of the World Cup distance classification. This win was not going to be easy, with seven skaters at the start and other distance specialists to contend with. Second-place finisher was Seung-Hi Park (KOR), who moved up from fourth place on the last lap. Yang Zhou (CHN) finished in third, narrowly edging out Italian skater Arianna Fontana.
The Men's 1500m final also saw a Korean skater take the win: this time it was Han-Bin Lee taking the top spot. While Lee controlled the second half of the race, there were several position changes behind him. Ultimately, John-Henry Krueger (USA) finished in second, while a photo-finish review was required to determine the third place finisher. Dutch skater Sjinkie Knegt took the last podium spot, ahead of François Hamelin of Canada. Charles Hamelin (CAN) maintained his lead in the World Cup distance classification with a fifth-place finish.
The Ladies' 500m event came down to a showdown between two Chinese skaters and the two local favorites, Fontana and Martina Valcepina (ITA). Meng Wang (CHN) led the race from start to finish, taking the win ahead of Fontana. The World Cup leader for this distance, Kexin Fan (CHN), maintained her advantage with a third-place finish in the final.
On the Men's side, the 500m final saw two Canadian skaters and two Russian skaters at the start line. Despite controlling the race from start, Charles Hamelin's win needed to be confirmed through a photo-finish review; he finished less than a blade's length ahead of Victor An of Russia. Olivier Jean (CAN) finished third. Hamelin is having a strong season thus far, as he takes over the lead of the World Cup classification for the distance from Vladimir Grigorev (RUS), who finished fourth.
Racing resumes tomorrow with the 1000m and Relay events for both the Ladies and Men.
For full results please click here