Russia and Hungary dominated the opening day of Finals at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating session in Beijing, sharing the two gold medals up for grabs in the Men’s events at the Capital Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
Semen Elistratov (RUS) and Adil Galiakhmetov (KAZ) celebrate gold and silver in the Men's 1500m © International Skating Union
Semen Elistratov (RUS) took the Men’s 1500m gold in a thrilling final that had to be restarted after he crashed out of the race along with An Kai (CHN), Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) and Adil Galiakhmetov (KAZ).
The restart saw An storm to a blistering start, with only Stijn Desmet (BEL) being able to follow, immediately putting metres between themselves and the other skaters.
Their strategy took its toll, however, as Elistratov and Galiakhmetov were able to catch up and comfortably overtake the race leaders with two laps to go. Elistratov came out victorious in the end as he held off Galiakhmetov, who secured his maiden medal in an international Short Track competition.
“Today was a crazy day. I’m feeling very happy with this win,” said Elistratov.
“After the crash I thought, oh my god we need to go again. My legs were feeling really tired, but the hard work I put into training has paid off.”
Silver medallist Galiakhmetov said: “I’m very happy with my first medal. I can’t explain what goes through my mind right now. This medal means everything to the people of Kazakhstan. It’s also the first step to the Olympic in Beijing for me.”
Liu rushes to gold in Hungarian one-two
Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) led out compatriot John-Henry Krueger and Denis Nikisha (KAZ) in the Men's 500m Final © International Skating Union
In the final medal event on Saturday, the Men’s 500m, Shaolin Sandor Liu came out on top after both Wu Dajing (CHN) and Jordan Pierre-Gilles (CAN) were disqualified from the A Final because of false-start penalties.
“It’s always a really special thing to stand on the podium together, whether that’s with my brother [Shaoang Liu] or with John. Hopefully by winning here it will bring me good luck for Beijing 2022.”
With his win, Liu claimed top spot in the Special Olympic Qualification Classification for the Men’s 500m, which is based on the best three results achieved at the four ISU World Cup Short Track Competitions this season.
Racing in Beijing continues on Sunday from 14:02 (local time), including finals in the Men’s and Women's 1000m, Mixed Team 2000m Relay, Women’s 2000m Relay, and Men’s 5000m Relay.