The second session of this season’s ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating ended with thrilling races in the Women’s Finals on Sunday, as the circuit checked off Asia on their road to the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Kristen Santos celebrated a landmark win in the Women's 1000m Final © International Skating Union
Kristen Santos (USA) claimed her maiden World Cup win following a fascinating final in the Women’s 1000m event at the Nippon Gaishi Arena in Nagoya.
Santos overtook Courtney Sarault (CAN) with four laps to go and was able to extend her lead to narrowly beat reigning Olympic and World Champion Suzanne Schulting (NED) into second place. Xandra Velzeboer (NED) completed the podium.
Santos bested reigning Olympic and World Champion Suzanne Schulting to win gold © International Skating Union
It is Santos’s third medal of the season, after bagging two bronze medals in the World Cup season premiere in Beijing last weekend. The 26-year-old won her first individual World Cup medal [bronze in the Women’s 1000m] in Nagoya during the 2019/20 season.
The Dutch pair of Suzanne Schulting (L) and Xandra Velzeboer (R) joined Santos on the podium © International Skating Union
“It feels really good to come back here and win gold. The past two weeks have definitely been a whirlwind,” Santos said.
“They [Schulting and Kim Boutin, who came in fifth] are all really amazing athletes and people that I’ve looked up to for so long. So to be in the mix of it with them is honestly an honor and really exciting.”
The Netherlands bounce back
The Netherlands set the fastest qualifying time for the Women’s 3000m relay in Saturday’s semi-finals and had another good start in the A Final to take the lead.
All teams were jostling for position, however, and at one point the Netherlands fell back into fifth following a slip by Velzeboer. It could have proved costly for the Dutch side, but they fought their way back into the race.
Netherlands recovered from an early slip to triumph in the Women's 3000m Relay © International Skating Union
With six laps left Netherlands reclaimed their position at the front, as Republic of Korea pushed hard to fight off Italy. Schulting was skating the Netherlands’ anchor lap and whipped through to secure victory, while the Koreans took silver ahead of Italy.
Netherlands celebrated a hard-fought gold in the final Women's event of the Nagoya World Cup © International Skating Union
“I’m really happy with how this day has been panning out, despite me finishing second in the Women’s 1000m earlier. I’ve learned a lot from today and that will definitely help me for the rest of the season and at the Olympics,” Schulting said.
Republic of Korea and Italy took silver and bronze behind the Netherlands © International Skating Union
Team Russia get to celebrate
The Mixed 2000m Relay was won by the Russian team of Ekaterina Efremenkova, Semen Elistratov, Sofia Prosvirnova, and Pavel Sitnikov. They clinched top spot by narrowly beating China, while Hungary came third.
The lead swung between China and Hungary for much of the race, but with five laps to go Efremenkova surged forward to push Russia to the head of the field.
Ekaterina Efremnkova and Sofia Prosvirnova helped power Russia to Mixed Relay gold © International Skating Union
With Elistratov skating the anchor leg, Russia held on to secure their first gold medal in an A Final of the World Cup session in Nagoya.
“Every medal is important, but I feel very happy to win this one with team Russia today. It was cool to do it all together,” Elistratov said.
China and Hungary completed the Mixed Relay podium in Nagoya © International Skating Union
The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating circuit moves to Debrecen, Hungary next month - from 18-21 November - for the first instalment of an European double-header of races to conclude the Olympic season.
The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series consists of four events during 2021/22 and they are all qualifying events for Beijing 2022.