Ladies 1000m podium ©Getty Images
Suzanne Schulting handed the Netherlands its first ever gold medal in Short Track, when she won the ladies’ 1000m on Thursday night at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Kim Boutin (CAN) took silver and Arianna Fontana (ITA) seized bronze, grabbing her eighth Olympic medal to equal the most decorated Olympic Short Track skaters of all time.
Historic Dutch medal in Short Track
Schulting entered the rink waving, smiling and blowing kisses to the audience before the final. “I was just enjoying the final at first and I think that's why I won the gold, because I was enjoying it so much,” the 20-year-old skater said.
Suzanne Schulting (NED) ©AFP
The route to the final was not easy. In the quarter final Schulting was not able to hold off Sukhee Shim (KOR), but she managed to hold her ground in second place to qualify for the semis. In a tactical semifinal race when Minjeong Choi (KOR), Sukhee Shim and Chunyu Qu (CHN) fought for the first position the Dutchwoman ceased the opportunity. Schulting went past the struggles to win the heat, with Shim and Choi coming second and third. Qu got a penalty for impeding while Choi was advanced to the Final A.
In the final Schulting managed to take an early lead. Boutin took over the lead with six laps to go, but Schulting got back in front while the pace picked up. Shim and Choi attacked from the outside and crashed in the pads together in the final lap. Schulting, Boutin and Fontana held on to first, second and third position. Shim eventually got penalized for impeding.
The Netherlands already won thirteen medals in long track Speed Skating at PyeongChang, but they never won an Olympic Short Track title before. Schulting hopes that her gold medal will give a boost to Dutch Short Track: "Short track six years ago was at the bottom and now we are climbing so fast. You know, I think I want to inspire all those young kids to do Short Track as well and make Short Track as big as long track is in Holland. It's amazing. I have really no words for it."
Three individual medals
Kim Boutin already took bronze medals in the ladies' 500m and 1500m at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The 23-year old Canadian took a medal in all three individual events at her Olympic debut, becoming the second woman to do so at a single Olympic Winter Games, after Meng Wang (CHN) in 2006.
She still lacks the gold, but she couldn’t be happier: “I don't know how to express that but it's just, I'm proud of myself, all the work I did with all my teammates and all my staff is just incredible. I know that I couldn't do that alone."
Kim Boutin (CAN) / Suzanne Schulting (NED) ©AFP
Fontana equals Ohno and An
Fontana took her eighth Olympic Short Track medal in total. Stefania Belmondo is the only Italian lady with more Olympic medals at the Olympic Winter Games, having collected ten in cross country skiing. Fontana equaled Apolo Anton Ohno (USA) and Viktor An (KOR, RUS) as the most decorated Short Track speed skaters in history. Something she could never have imagined 12 years ago: “No. In Torino (Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games) I was 15. I was really young. I just wanted to go fast, be the fastest woman, and win. I loved to win. That's what I dreamed of. I didn't think I was going to be here at these Olympics actually, because after Sochi (2014) I thought I was going to retire. I'm really happy that I didn't."
The 1000m is not Fontana’s favorite distance: "I actually hate it. I trained really hard this season because I wanted to be here to try to do something good. My goal was to get in the final. I was already super happy and excited that I was in the final. It's my first final in the 1000m at the Olympics, so that was already a big goal for me.”
Arianna Fontana (ITA) ©AFP