The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series gets under way again on November 1, with a thrilling season of racing in prospect. A combination of experienced champions and bright new stars will make up a fascinating field of racers, meaning that predicting a winner in either the men’s or women’s field is extremely tough.
Suzanne Schulting (NED) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands was the standout athlete of last season. The 21-year-old phenomenon came into the season with an Olympic gold medal from PyeongChang 2018 boosting her confidence and looked imperious throughout.
At the 2019 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, she became only the second-ever European victor of the Women’s overall World Championships title in its 44-year history, getting gold in the 1000m and 3000m Super Final to take the title.
That achievement followed a season in which Schulting was overall 1000m and 1500m ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating champion – and didn’t lose a single 1000m final that she lined up in.
With a bulletproof mentality and improved levels of power, Schulting will surely be in the mix again, batting for podiums in every distance and determined to build a dynasty.
Choi Min Jeong (KOR) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Who is most likely to steal her thunder? Choi Min Jeong. The Republic of Korea skater has dominated the sport in recent times, winning three of the four ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships titles prior to Schulting in the past five years. Last season she was slowed by injury, while still managing to win races. Fully fit, a mouth-watering season-long tussle with her Dutch rival could be on the cards.
Kim Boutin (CAN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (GER) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Several other racers have the talent to challenge the pair, too. Canada’s Kim Boutin got better and better last term: able to compete over all three main distances, she was worthy of her bronze medal at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, and can target further improvement.
The lightening fast trio of Natalia Maliszewska of Poland, Martina Valcepina of Italy and Lara van Ruijven of the Netherlands should dominate the 500m again, while Kim Ji Yoo (Republic of Korea), Sofia Prosvirnova (Russia) and Alyson Charles (Canada) all look likely to get onto podiums again.
Maame Biney (USA) at the ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Look out too for young American prospect Maame Biney, while two veterans should also make appearances. Italy’s Arianna Fontana, who won 500m gold at PyeongChang 2018 and then took a season off, is back in training. Meanwhile, Great Britain’s 2017 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Champion Elise Christie has had a summer frustrated by injury – but is now looking to return to the circuit in the New Year. Don’t write off either of these great racers yet.
The men’s field is perhaps harder to gauge. Last season’s honours were an internal battle between one country: the Republic of Korea.
Lim Hyo Jun (KOR) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Hwang enjoyed a sensational season’s racing and could rightly feel disappointed about not becoming champion himself after a couple of disqualifications in Sofia. He will be determined to prove he is actually his country’s number one racer this term.
Hwang Dae Heon (KOR) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Injury and absence held back the Koreans’ key competitors last season. Two off-ice accidents ended the season of Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands, while Shaoang Liu of Hungary was looking like a definite contender until a hand injury frustrated his year.
Wu Dajing (CHN) and Shaoang Liu (HUN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (USA) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Wu Dajing of China was excellent early on in the 500m, but missed half the year, and then couldn’t quite get his form back later in the year. Along with Liu’s brother Shaolin Sandor, Kazuki Yoshinaga of Japan and two brilliant young Canadians – Steven Dubois and Samuel Girard – there is plenty of talent to disrupt the Koreans.
Look out for further excitement in the relays, too. Hungary’s male foursome won the Olympic gold at PyeongChang 2018, and then shattered the 5000m world record last term, while the brand-new mixed relay was a big hit. With teams having had an off season to work on their tactics, the racing should be faster than ever this time around.
Short Track Speed Skating Mixed Relay at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (KAZ) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating season begins in Salt Lake City (November 1-3), before moving on to Montreal (November 8-10), Nagoya (November 29-December 1), Shanghai (December 6-8), Dresden (February 7-9) and Dordrecht (February 14-16).
As well as those regular meetings, there will also be the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships, in Debrecen, Hungary (January 24-26).
The planet’s best young skaters will then get their chance in the limelight for the ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Bormio, Italy (January 31-February 2). It’s a great competition that has seen the likes of Courtney Lee Sarault (CAN), Maame Biney, Lee June Seo and Shaoang Lui shine over recent years: expect potential future champions to emerge again this time around.
There’s a brand-new event for this season, too: the ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships. Taking place in Montreal (January 10-12), it’s the rest of the world’s answer to the European Championships, inviting the best skaters from the other four key skating continents – the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania – to fight for a fresh title.
Viewers will be able to watch either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel. A Where to Watch News will be posted with more details on isu.org.
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