The ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2021 concluded in Gdansk, Poland with Russia’s Semen Elistratov securing his third European overall title after an explosive finish in the 1000m final.
Russia’s Artem Arefyev won his first individual World Cup gold as seasoned campaigners Thomas Krol and Patrick Roest collected yet more titles for the Netherlands from the first leg of the 2020/2021 World Cup series in Heerenveen on Sunday. The 20-year-old Russian sprinter came out on top when the dust had cleared after an intense battle in the 500m, Krol took his second gold medal of the weekend by edging his team-mate and good friend Kai Verbij in the 1000m and Roest smashed his own track record by more than three seconds to win the 5000m.
Brittany Bowe (USA), Femke Kok (NED) and Irene Schouten (NED) on Sunday each collected their second gold medal from the first leg of the 2020/2021 World Cup series in Heerenveen. The USA skater added the 1000m victory to her 1500m gold on Saturday, while Kok became the first Dutch lady to win the 500m twice in one World Cup weekend. Her compatriot Irene Schouten was proud to put her name on the board of Thialf track records when she won the 3000m to add to her Mass Start triumph.
The men’s 1500m final became a Russian affair. Semen Elistratov took his third Championship title in the event, having won gold at both the Moscow 2015 World Championships and the 2017 European Championships in Torino. His teammate Denis Ayrapetyan took silver, ahead of the Netherlands’ Sjinkie Knegt, who picked up the bronze after a push from fifth position in the closing four laps.
Dutch skaters filled the top five places in the men’s 1500m in Heerenveen on Saturday, with a superb Thomas Krol leading the pack in the second fastest time ever skated in Thialf: one minute and 43.24 seconds. The Netherlands’ domination continued in the other men’s events on the second day of the first ISU World Cup event in the 2020/2021 season, with Dai Dai Ntab and Arjan Stroetinga taking gold in the 500m and Mass Start respectively.
“I’m super excited and grateful to be here and skate against the best in the world,” said USA’s Brittany Bowe after winning the ladies’ 1500m in Heerenveen on Saturday, voicing the feeling of many skaters, especially those from outside Europe, at the first ISU World Cup event of the season. Femke Kok (NED), who took bronze at last week’s European Sprint Championships, collected gold in her favorite 500m and Irene Schouten (NED) won the Mass Start by outsprinting Ivanie Blondin (CAN) in the final lap.
Canada’s ladies started their international speed skating season with a big surprise at the first leg of the ISU World Cup in Heerenveen on Friday. Ivanie Blondin, Valérie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann won their Team Pursuit, skating the second fastest time ever at Thialf Stadium in 2 minutes and 56.71 seconds. The Netherlands had to settle for silver on home ice in 2:57.04, while Norway followed more than two seconds later in third.
The Netherlands kicked off the World Cup 2020/2021 series with a gold medal in the men's Team Pursuit in Heerenveen on Friday. Veteran captain Sven Kramer led youngsters Chris Huizinga and Beau Snellink past Olympic champions Norway by more than a second, with Canada only 0.08 seconds behind in third. In the semi-finals of the Mass Start, Austrian prodigy Gabriel Odor qualified for the Saturday final.
Elite Figure Skaters perform in front of ten thousands of people in arenas and millions of TV viewers. They win medals, they bathe in applause, flowers and toys cover the ice, fans cheer for them, the media covers them. This is one side of the coin. The other side is not as shiny. There is a lot of pressure coming from the public, the national federations, the media, the athletes themselves. There are injuries and illnesses, failures and shattered confidence. There is hate pouring out of the ever-present internet. Russian Figure Skater Mikhail Kolyada has experienced it all – the good, the bad and the ugly sides of being an international top-level athlete.
“I’ve never seen anybody doing what he does’, says Sweden coach Joël Eriksson admiringly about Nils van der Poel. “He’s an unbelievable kid.” The 24-year-old stunned the international Speed Skating world when he broke the nine-year-old track record the 10,000m in Inzell at a training race last December. It was his first official race after a two-year absence from Speed Skating. He was in the army and competed in ultrarunning instead. “There’s a lot of different ways that lead to Rome”, Van der Poel says without the slightest hesitation.
The condensed International Speed Skating season in the Heerenveen Hub resumes with the first of two ISU World Cup Speed Skating events on Friday 22 January. After the ISU European Speed Skating Championships last weekend, this will be the first chance for Skaters from the other continents to see how they stand at an International level. The 2020/21 ISU World Cup Speed Skating series, which comprises of two events in Thialf in back-to-back weekends, will also serve as one of the qualifying events for quota places at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships 2021 in February.
Don’t miss any of the action from the season’s thrilling races from the Heerenveen Speed Skating Hub, which will be streamed live to all fans on the ISU Skating YouTube page. Make sure you subscribe to the channel to receive live stream notifications. Some geo-restrictions will apply on YouTube, but if you find yourself unable to watch the stream, check out one of the channels indicated here to get access.
After an extraordinary period of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020/21 Short Track season will finally get underway in Gdańsk, Poland this weekend, with the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships taking place from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 January.
The ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships begin Friday, January 22, 2021 in Gdansk, Poland. Don’t miss any of the action as the Skaters get back on the ice for this season’s thrilling races, which will be streamed live to all fans on the ISU Skating YouTube.