Jorien Ter Mors of the Netherlands in the lead

- Dresden, Germany

Europe’s best short track speed skaters took to the ice in Dresden, Germany as part of the 2014 ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championship. This is the last opportunity for these skaters to compete head to head, prior to the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The defending ladies champion, Arianna Fontana of Italy, did not have the start to the weekend she had hoped for. While she won both of her qualifying races, through the first two rounds, she fell in the final and finished fifth. Jorien Ter Mors, of the Netherlands, was the winner of today’s 1500 metres, putting her in the lead in the overall classification after the first day. Ter Mors is aiming to improve on last year when she finished third overall.

A pair of Hungarian skaters finished second and third, with Bernadett Heidum crossing the line ahead of her team-mate Zsofia Konya. Elise Christie of Great Britain finished fourth. Christie was a silver medalist at last year’s European Championships.

On the men’s side Russian skater Semen Elistratov won the 1500m. Elistratov finished fifth overall at last year’s event, so the win sets him up to improve on that result. Finishing second and third were a duo of Dutch skaters: Niels Kerstholt followed by defending European Short Track Speed Skating Champion Freek Van der Wart.

Other skaters to earn important classification points were: Roberto Pukitis (Latvia), Anthony Lobello (Italy), Thibault Fauconnet (France) and Sjinkie Knegt (Netherlands). These skaters ranked fourth through to seventh.

In the relay events, the following countries advanced to Saturday’s semi-final round:

Ladies: Italy, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Great Britain, Russia, Germany, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

Men: Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, France, Russia, Hungary, Italy, and Ukraine

Day 2 of racing will resume on Saturday with the 1,000 metres individual events.