The ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2018 will be held at the Ice Arena Tomaszow Mazowiecki in Poland on March 2-4.
The event, now in its 25th year, is visiting the country for the third time having taken place in Warsaw in 2001 and 2013. 220 skaters from 41 ISU Members have been entered to compete.
The reigning Junior World Champions, and the other medalists in the Ladies’ and Men’s fields, will not compete, therefore new champions will be crowned this weekend.
The Championships have been a great springboard for top Short Track names in the past: Shaoang Liu 2017 overall Champion, went on to win a historical Olympic title at PyeongChang 2018 in the 5000m Relay for Hungary. Korean Lee Yu Bin was the 2017 Junior Ladies’ Champion.
500m Olympic Champion and two-time individual World Champion Wu Dajing (CHN), the USA’s Apolo Anton Ohno, who won two Olympic titles and six World titles, Suzanne Schulting – the first Dutch Short Track skater to win a gold medal at the Olympics – and Choi Minjeong, the talented Korean skater who delighted the home crowd at PyeongChang 2018 when she won 1500m and 3000m Relay titles, have all participated in the World Junior Championships.
Who will follow in their footsteps towards World Championships and Olympic Winter Games glory, this time around?
The Republic of Korea always sends a strong squad: having won 21 out of 24 World Junior titles on the Men’s side, and 20 in the junior Ladies’. This year is no exception, with some outstanding athletes in their line-up: the Junior Men include Seo Minkyu, Park Janghyuk and Lee Juneseo have all been very fast this year, while Park Jiyun, Kim Jiyoo and Han Soolim are developing well in the Ladies’ competitions.
Elsewhere in the Men’s field, look out for Russia’s Pavel Sitnikov, the Netherlands’ Jasper Brunsmann, Kazakhstan’s Adil Galiakhmetov, Japan’s Katsunori Koike, France’s Quentin Fercoq and Li Wenlong of China. Rafal Anikej (Poland), meanwhile, will try to generate some local excitement. Canada’s skaters – Vincent Girard, Marco Fritz Schumann, Adrian Rudy and Alexis Marceau – are all exceptionally quick, too.
In the Ladies’ draw, Canada’s team includes prospects like Danae Blais, Alyson Charles, Claudia Gagnon and Courtney Lee Sarault. Also in contention should be Selma Poutsma (France), Shione Kaminaga, Seina Yokoyama and Aoi Watanabe (all Japan), Xandra Velzeboer (Netherlands) and Angelina Tarasova (Russia), with Kamila Stormowska the great Polish hope on local ice.
At Innsbruck 2017, Republic of Korea, China and USA took gold, silver and bronze respectively in the Junior Men’s Relay event, while China, Russia and Japan were 1, 2, 3 in the Junior Ladies’ Relay.
The schedule of the ISU World Junior Short Track Championships 2018 is as follows:
Friday March 2: Qualifying Rounds 1500, 500, 1000 meters Ladies & Men
Saturday March 3: Ranking Races 1500, 500 meters Ladies & Men; Semi-Finals & Finals 1500 meters Ladies & Men; Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals & Finals 500 meters Ladies & Men; Semi-Finals 3000 meters Relay Ladies; Semi-Finals 3000 meters Relay Men
Sunday March 4: Ranking Races 1000 meters Ladies & Men; Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals & Finals 1000 meters Ladies & Men; Super-Finals 1500 meters Ladies & Men; Finals 3000 meters Relay Ladies; Finals 3000 meters Relay Men.