With the 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships getting underway on March 5 in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, let’s take a look at the highlights of the last four editions…
2019 World Championships, Sofia, Bulgaria
Best moment, Ladies: Schulting wins dramatic 3000m Superfinal to grab gold
If Suzanne Schulting came of age at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games – winning the gold medal in the 1000m – it was in Bulgaria that she truly put down her marker as the best female Short Track Speed Skater in the world.
The event started badly for the Netherlands athlete, with Schulting not making it to the 1500m final after getting a penalty in the semi-final. But she then claimed third place in the 500m final to gain valuable points – and the next day won the 1000m and 3000m Superfinal to pip her Republic of Korea rival Choi Min Jeong to the title. “After my Olympic title at PyeongChang over 1000m, I wanted to prove that I am not a one-day fly,” she said. “So I’m incredibly happy right now.”
Best moment, Men: Hwang and Lim wrestle for supremacy in 1000m
The Republic of Korea’s male racers won every race in Sofia – but a tussle between their two leading men provided real intrigue for the fans.
In the 1500m, Hwang Dae Heon – who crossed the line first – impeded his teammate Lim Hyo Jun, giving Lim the points. Hwang struck back and won the 500m, setting up a tantalizing 1000m. Lim prevailed, coming round the outside of his friend and teammate to grab the crucial points as they finished first and second. “It was a big fight but he is like a younger brother to me,” Lim said afterwards. “We have a great relationship and no matter who wins, it makes me happy.”
2018 World Championships, Montreal, Canada
Best moment, Ladies: 3000m Superfinal: Choi destroys competition for third title
Choi Min Jeong (KOR) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
At just 16 in 2015, Choi won her first overall ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, and a year later she retained the title. But it was in 2018 that she was at her absolutely unassailable best. Choi won the 1500m and 500m to put her way ahead, faltering only in the 1000m final. By the 3000m Superfinal, her opponents were waving the white flag – but Choi marauded to victory to collect an incredible 110 points overall. “I didn’t expect this but I’m very happy to win,” Choi said.
Best moment, Men: Hamelin the home hero seals crucial 1000m
Charles Hamelin (CAN) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Canadian crowds are crazy about Short Track Speed Skater, and Charles Hamelin – already a legend of the sport after winning three Olympic gold medals – sent them into raptures in Montreal. His biggest moment? Pipping Lim Hyo Jun to the line by a fraction in the vital 1000m showdown. The then 33-year-old had finally added the biggest honor missing from his collection. “To win it here in Montreal in front of my family and friends, I’m at a loss for words,” he said.
2017 ISU World Short Track Speed Skaitng Championships, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Best moment, Ladies: Christie becomes first European Short Track Speed Skater to win Ladies’ title with stunning 1000m
The Republic of Korea, Canada and China have dominated Ladies’ Short Track Speed Skating since the sport’s inception, with no European ever winning the overall World title. Elise Christie would break the mould. The Scottish powerhouse won the 1500m on day one to set up her challenge – ahead of Canada’s Marianne St-Gelais, who would finish second in all three main races. But it was in her favorite distance, the 1000m, that Christie would show her supremacy. A blisteringly fast performance put her on top of the podium. “This year I have really changed my mindset, it was win or lose,” she said. “I risked losing to win.”
Best moment, Men: Seo Yi-ra seals title with accomplished 1000m win
Seo Yi-Ra (KOR) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2017©International Skating Union (ISU)
The Men’s field in Rotterdam was extremely competitive, with three different winners over the main three distances: local hero Sjinkie Knegt won the 500m, while the Republic of Korea’s Sin Da-woon took 1500m gold. But Seo just about prevailed from this immense struggle, gaining valuable points by finishing third in both those races. He then roared to victory in the 1000m to stake his claim.
2016 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, Seoul, Rep. Korea
Best moment, Ladies: Choi pips Christie in 1000m to grab overall glory
On home ice, Choi faced a major battle to retain her ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championship overall title. She was second in the 1500m, behind Marianne St-Gelais, meaning the 1000m was going to be absolutely crucial – especially with Britain’s Elise Christie gathering points elsewhere, and racing her favorite distance. But Choi used all her race smarts to finish five hundredths of a second ahead of the British skater. It was the crucial blow in a three-way struggle.
Best moment, Men: Han Tianyu’s Superfinal joy
Han Tianyu (CHN) at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2016©International Skating Union (ISU)
China hadn’t won a Men’s ISU World Short Track Speed Skating overall gold in 15 years, with Li Jiajun in 2001 their last champion – and Asian rivals the Republic of Korea had lifted 11 titles in that time. So to finally get the overall on Korean ice felt sweet for Han. Going into the Superfinal, the points were finely poised, with Han having won the 1500m, Hungary’s Shaolin Sandor Liu the 500m, and Charles Hamelin the 1000m. But Han skated perfectly in the showdown race, and was overjoyed at the finish.