ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Crashes, several Junior World Records and a thrilling glimpse into the future of the sport – the ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships, held this weekend at the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal, Canada, had a bit of everything.
Seo and Biney star in eventful Ladies’ competition
Seo Whi Min (KOR) celebrates victory in the Ladies' 3000m Relay final in Montreal © International Skating Union (ISU)
On Saturday, 16-year-old Seo Whi Min, from the Republic of Korea, was victorious in the 1500m. It was the announcement of a major talent, considering she beat Li Jinyu of China, who won silver over this distance at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, into second place, and Canadian Courtney Lee Sarault, who has been making podiums in the World Cup, into third.
Seo’s ability was evident when she set the Junior World Record over 1000m in 2017, aged just 14, but this performance took matters up a notch.
Later that day, in the 500m, another athlete tipped for the top was unstoppable.
Tipped for the top: Maame Biney (USA) © International Skating Union (ISU)
USA’s Maame Biney led from the front in every round, smashed the Junior World Record in the quarter-finals (43.212s), and won the final with ease thanks to a display of raw speed. Xandra Velzeboer (NED) got silver and Georgie Dalrymple (NED) took bronze.
Seo Whi Min can feel disappointed not to have won Sunday’s 1000m, too. She was looking good at the front of the pack when she was taken out by China’s Li Xuan, who was penalized. Li Jinyu capitalized to take gold, with Park Yoon Jung (KOR) getting silver. Claudia Heeney (CAN) gave the home crowd something to cheer about, grabbing the bronze.
Republic of Korea won the 3000m Relay – with the foursome of Jeon Yu Min, Kim Chae Hyun, Park Yoon Jung and Seo Whi Min setting a new Junior World Record over the distance (4:14:699). Russia took silver and Italy bronze.
Republic of Korea dominate Men’s races
Wang Pengyu (CHN) Chang Hyun Woo (KOR) Pietro Sighel (ITA) at the ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
On Saturday, Republic of Korea’s Chang Hyun Woo won the Men’s 1500m after an exciting race involving plenty of overtaking. China’s Wang Pengyu was second, with Pietro Sighel of Italy third. The race was led for a long time by Japanese racer Shogo Miyata – who looks a real prospect – on the eve of his 16th birthday.
In the 500m later on Saturday, Kim Tae Sung (KOR) led throughout, fighting off strong challenges from Sun Long (CHN), who took silver, and the consistent Italian Pietro Sighel, who won bronze.
Jung Ho Kyoung of Korea after finishing first in the Men's 1000m in Montreal © International Skating Union (ISU)
Sunday’s 1000m featured a masterclass from Republic of Korea’s Jung Ho Kyoung. After dominating qualifying, he opened up clear space with three laps to go in the final, and couldn’t be caught. Compatriot Kim Tae Sung (KOR) got the silver, with Kazuki Yoshinaga of Japan securing bronze.
China won the 3000m Relay, with Li Wenlong, Song Jian, Sun Long and Wang Pengyu breaking the Junior World Record at this distance (3:58:501) in real style. Netherlands got silver and Russia the bronze.
Team Netherlands, Team China and Team Russia at the ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships © International Skating Union (ISU)