Lausanne, Switzerland


As a challenging 2020 draws to a close the world’s Short Track Speed Skating stars can look back on a year that offered a chance to deviate from just training and competing – be it fixing that little technical detail, finishing a box set of movies or spending extra time with the family – to come back stronger for 2021.

“This year I met my girlfriend and the pandemic gave me the opportunity to spend more time with her,” Canada’s Pascal Dion said. “Another good thing is that I got to watch all of Marvel’s movies with her.”

Dion’s teammate Jordan Pierre-Gilles also reflects on more quality time at home. “#OneGoodThing I did during this past year was to spend a lot of time with my girlfriend and our dog. It made me realize how good I feel at home,” he said. “I’ve also got closer to some members of my team because we trained a lot together this summer and it made it a lot more motivating.”

Fellow Canadians Cedrik Blais and Courtney Lee Sarault also feel stronger ahead of 2021.

“#OneGoodThing that came out of this year for me would be the extra time to train and really focus on myself and my goals for the upcoming years,” Sarault said. “Also being able to develop my strength has helped my skating a lot. I’m really excited to race again hopefully sometime soon and test out all the things I’ve learned this year.”

For Blais, the #OneGoodThing of 2020 was the summer training: “We were used to training two times a day on the ice every summer,” the 24-year-old said.

“But for once it was different and I had the chance to go train outside on my bike and to put lots of miles on it. I was training from home and didn’t have to drive an hour to go to the rink two times a day. (I) really enjoyed the freedom and felt good coming back on the ice.”

For Danae Blais, Cedrik’s sister, the year’s highlight was a trip to Europe.

“The good thing that happened in 2020 is that I went to France to visit my sister who now lives there,” she said. “It was a special moment for us because we hadn’t seen each other for almost a year. She is my biggest supporter and I love her with all my heart.”

Unable to travel as much as other years, Rebeka Sziliczei-Nemet said bicycle training with her Hungarian teammates allowed her to explore lots of new places in her home country instead.

“I’ve got to explore more of Hungary’s beautiful and sometimes hidden treasures, which was definitely a good thing and experience in these difficult times,” she said. “I tried to put biking and exploring new places together in one context because some places we visited because we biked there.”

“We were still able to be on the ice a lot this year,” Belgium’s Stijn Desmet said. “So I tried to think a lot about my technique and efficiency and try lots of new things. I also took the time to watch some training videos from teammates in Belgium and give them some ideas to try out on the ice. So my hopes are that it helped them. That would be a #OneGoodThing.”

Reflecting on the past 12 months, Russia’s Sofia Prosvirnova is happy she was in Portugal when the lockdown started there.

“It was quite nice to spend lockdown in the warm country near the beach with my boyfriend and I built some aerobic shape for the upcoming season,” the 23-year-old said.

Italy’s Cynthia Mascitto and Hungary’s Deanna Lockett said family time was their #OneGoodThing as they recharge.

“This year I got the chance to spend a little more time with my family,” Mascitto said. “The epidemic allowed me to stay home longer before the new season started and enjoy the everyday little things with them.”

When Lockett turned 25 in November, it was a special birthday in many ways.

“My birthday is always around the time of the first two World Cups. This year I got to be at home with my family to celebrate it for the first time in ten years,” she said.

Some skaters have used 2020 to expand their family with new four-legged friends.

“This year my little 25-year-old dream came true. I got a dog! His name is Milky because his hair color is like milk chocolate,” said Russia’s Emina Malagich, whose teammate Ekaterina Konstantinova also got a furry friend to help her through 2020. “This year we bought a cat for our family. His name is Tim and he makes us happier every day,” she said.

USA’s Corinne Stoddard, meanwhile, said: “I’ve had more time to bond with my dog Mylo and get some school work done.”

Stoddard isn’t the only Short Track Speed Skater with more study time this year. After nearly a decade at university, Israel’s Vladislav Bykanov has finished. “*OneGoodThing that happened this year is that I’m finally done with my university exams after almost 10 years of studying,” he said, adding that he’s had more time to do housework this year too.

Belgian skating ace Hanne Desmet also comes out of 2020 with a degree.

“#OneGoodThing for me this year is that I graduated. In the summer I got my bachelor in Business Engineering, which I have been working on for a long time. The pandemic actually made studying a little easier,” Desmet said.

Hungary’s Shaoang Liu has started studying his Chinese-born father’s first language, Mandarin, preparing for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

“I’m able to speak Chinese as well but since a few years I have forgotten how to read and write Chinese, so I started to learn that now,” the 22-year-old Olympic 5000m Relay champion said.

Liu’s 2020 started with a bang as he won the Overall title at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships on home ice in Debrecen. After that, he spent the lockdown developing his mental strength.

“We couldn’t do much so I was thinking a lot,” he said. “I forgot that the human being is always learning so I had to reboot myself and now I can do 110 percent on training.”

While Dylan Hoogerwerf of the Netherlands has been unable to race and beat opponents, he has been composing beats.

“#OneGoodThing this year was that I was home a lot because we couldn’t travel,” he said. “So I had a lot of time to make music, which is my hobby. And I started selling my music, making music for other artists, and I had a lot of time to do that next to my training, so that was my good thing for this year.”

Teammate Melle van ’t Wout, 20, said he has made lots of new long track friends – through online gaming.

“That was because of corona. First we couldn’t train so we had a game night and since then we’ve been playing almost every day,” he said.

Italy’s Tommaso Dotti has learned to appreciate the little things this year. “The one and only good thing I can think of was when I could walk again after my ankle and fibula injury in mid-July. That feeling was something that I never felt before – reborn for the second time at 27 years old,” he said.

Dotti’s compatriot, Olympic 500m champion Arianna Fontana, 30, also admitted the year had been tough in many ways. The #OneGoodThing that came out of 2020 for her was learning who’s there for her when she’s not on top of the Olympic Games medal podium.

“It helped me distinguish between those fair-weather friends and the people you can call in the middle of the night when your car breaks down,” she said. “Sometimes it takes surviving a tough ordeal to recognize what’s most important.”