The second session of this season’s ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating ended with thrilling races in the Men’s Finals on Sunday, as the circuit checked off Asia on their road to the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Ren Ziwei triumphed in the Men's 1000m on Sunday in Nagoya © International Skating Union
Hwang Daeheon (KOR) hoped to continue his strong start to the season, having already secured four medals (two gold and one silver and bronze), in the Men’s 1000m on Sunday, but he was forced to withdraw from the quarter finals for medical reasons.
Ren Ziwei (CHN) took full advantage of the absence of the world record holder at this distance. The 24-year-old led from the start to pocket gold at the Nippon Gaishi Arena in Nagoya.
With two laps to go, Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) crashed out when he tried to overtake Ren. It left Itzhak de Laat (NED) and Pascal Dion (CAN) to fight it out for silver and bronze, with the former prevailing.
Ren led from start to finish on his way to World Cup gold in the 1000m © International Skating Union
“I’m very happy and excited with this win. I wanted to be more upfront; be the one to make the first move and was then able to successfully defend throughout my race,” Ren said.
“I want to maintain this feeling for the rest of the season with Beijing 2022 coming up. I’m very happy about the opportunity to compete in my homecountry, but I also feel the pressure.”
Itzhak de Laat (L) and Pascal Dion (R) took silver and bronze behind Ren © International Skating Union
Photo finish separates Canada and China
The Men’s 5000m Relay culminated in a nail-biter of a last lap, as a photo finish had to determine the outcome of the race.
China led for most of the Final, but Steven Dubois (CAN) showed he had still something left in the tank as he passed around the outside on the last corner to lunge himself across the finish line.
Canada won the Men's 5000m Relay by the tightest of margins in Nagoya © International Skating Union
It proved just enough as Canada beat China by 0.013 seconds to win gold. Hungary completed the podium by claiming bronze.
“It was a really good race. We tried to explode as strong as we could in the last twelve laps, so we could stick to the front and battle for the gold medal – and that’s exactly what we did,” Hamelin said.
“It’s always fun to have a great finish after back-to-back World Cups. For us to be where we’re at in a relay, it’s pretty awesome. We have a young team with new faces, so this is a strong statement, don’t take Canada for granted from now on.”
China and Hungary joined Canada on the podium for the Men's 5000m Relay © 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.
Semen Elistratov skated the anchor leg as Russia took 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.