Kazuki Yoshinaga of Japan, who is among the favorites in Montreal, in World Cup action © International Skating Union (ISU)
The ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships take place at the Maurice-Richard Arena, Montreal, Canada, from January 25-27.
While this meeting is all about uncovering new talent, three already-notable names jump out from the line-up. Courtney Lee Sarault shone at the 2018 World Juniors in Warsaw, finishing second overall, and has already taken that form into senior competition this season, winning 1500m silver at the ISU World Cup Short Track in Calgary.
She’ll probably be favorite for the overall title this time but don’t discount the USA’s Maame Biney, who finished third overall in Warsaw last year, and won the 500m with ease. Biney has been achieving top ten positions in World Cups, too. She celebrates her 19th birthday the day after the event finishes and is an obvious prospect for upcoming seasons.
Courtney Lee Sarault of Canada, who won gold and silver medals at the 2018 World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships © International Skating Union (ISU)
In the Men’s field, Kazuki Yoshinaga of Japan will be among the favorites. He had an impressive 2018 World Junior Championships, winning silver in the 1500m, and has also kicked on to dazzle on the big stage, taking gold at the World Cup in Calgary this season, his first major win.
Who else might put their name on the map? In the Ladies’ field, Republic of Korea’s Jeon Yumin and Kim Chae Hyun look fast, while Marijn Wiersma and Esther Gijsbers of the Netherlands, and China’s Li Jinyu, also have plenty of potential.
In the Men’s ranks, look out for the Canadian pair, William Dandjinou and Matej Pederson, the Netherlands’ Sven Roes and Melle van ’t Wout, Russia’s Konstantin Ivliev, Rep. Korea’s Chang Hyun Woo and Jung Hokyoung, and China’s Wang Pengyu and Li Wenlong.
The World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships have been held annually since 1994, and the honor roll of overall winners includes some of the biggest names in the sport’s history, including Francois-Louis Tremblay (1998), Apolo Anton Ohno (1999), Lee Ho-Suk (2003-05), Seo Yi Ra (2011) and Shaoang Liu (2017) on the Men’s side and Kim So-hee (1994), Marie-Eve Drolet (2001-02), Shim Suk Hee (2012) and Qu Chunyu (2016) in the Ladies’.
2017 World Junior Overall Champion Shaoang Liu (HUN) in the Men's 500m medal ceremony during the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Last year, in Warsaw, the Republic of Korea dominated with Kim Ji Yoo crowned the Ladies’ World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Champion for 2018, while Hong Kyung Hwan (KOR) became the Men’s World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Champion for 2018.
Kim Ji Yoo has since taken that form into the World Cup, including an impressive silver in the 1500m in Salt Lake City, while Hong won his first World Cup gold at the same meeting, in the 1000m.
There will be individual races over 500m, 1000m, 1500m, and a 3000m Relay for both Ladies and Men; qualifying rounds are on Friday 25, the finals of the 500m and 1500m on Saturday, and the 1000m and 3000m on Sunday.