The 2013-2014 Samsung ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating seasons kicked off this weekend in Shanghai, China. This season's World Cup series is an important one as the top short track speed skaters in world continue their preparation ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
A few things have changed for this season's Samsung ISU World Cup Short Track series: there are a total of four events, each four days in length, with the individual distance (500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m) being raced once. In the first two days of the event, skaters compete through the rounds of pre-preliminaries, preliminaries and heats for each of the distances. Finally, a new point-scoring system has also been implemented for the overall World Cup ranking. Today's racing saw the skaters competing in the finals of the 1500 m and 500 m for both the Ladies and Men.
In the Ladies 1500 m, Suk Hee Shim started her season where she finished the last one, in first place. The defending World Cup distance champion finished first, ahead of her teammate Alang Kim. Jorien Ter Mors of the Netherlands finished third, extremely close to the Korean duo. The event was marked by a penalty to Ha-Ri Cho, and eight skaters at the start line, with Bernadett Heidum (Hungary) and Jessica Hewitt (Canada) being advanced from the semi-final round due to a penalty to another skater.
In the Men's 1500 m event, it was another Korean win at the distance, with Jinkyu Noh finishing first. Noh emulated his teammate Shim on the Ladies' side, the defending World Cup champion for the distance starting off his season with a win. Canadian skater Charles Hamelin was a very close second, while third place went to Victor An of Russia. An sneaked into the podium position on the last lap, passing Da Woon Sin of Korea.
The other finals being raced today were the 500 m events. In the Ladies event, the Chinese fans were able to celebrate a top podium finish. However, it was not defending World Cup distance champion Meng Wang in first place, but rather her teammate Kexin Fan. Seung-Hi Park of Korea finished in second place, while Marianne St-Gelais (Canada) barely edged out Sofia Prosvirnova (Russia) for third.
In the Men's 500 m event, with five skaters at the line, you knew this race was going to be tightly contested. In the end, it was defending World Cup distance champion Charles Hamelin who managed to finish ahead of Russia's Vladimir Grigorev for first place. Third place had to be determined using the photo-finish camera, with Eduardo Alvarez (USA) edging out Ho-Suk Lee (KOR) and Freek Van Der Wart (NED). This was Alvarez's career first World Cup podium finish.
Racing resumes tomorrow with the 1000 m and Relay events for both the Ladies and Men.