Europe's best short track speed skaters took the ice this weekend in Mlada Boleslaw, Czech Republic for the 2012 ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championship. Arianna Fontana of Italy was once again crowned the ladies European Short Track Speed Skating Champion, while Dutch skater Sjinkie Knegt earned his first ever European Championship title. Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands finished second overall in the women's event, with Martina Valcepina of Italy taking third. On the men's side, it was in fact a 1-2 finish for the Netherlands, with Niels Kerstholt finishing second. Thibaut Fauconnet of France was third.
A total of 26 countries were represented for this 3-day event this weekend, with the scheduling having the athletes compete in the 500, 1000, 1500 meters distances, with the top points earners after three events competing in a 3000m Super Final. The championships closed with the relay events.
The weekend began with the 1500 meters events. In the ladies competition, Arianna Fontana began her quest for the European Championship title with a win in the event, finishing ahead of Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands. Martina Valcepina of Italy was third. On the men's side, Dutch skater Sjinkie Knegt took the win the 1500 meters, finishing ahead of Russian Semen Elistratov. Niels Kerstholt (NED) was third.
In the ladies 500 meters event, Arianna Fontana took her second win in as many days, edging out her teammate Martina Valcepina. Third place finish went to Andrea Keszler of Hungary. In the men's 500 meters event, Vladimir Grigorev of Russia skated across the finish in first place, ahead of a duo from Great Britain, Jack Whelbourne and Jon Eley who came in second and third respectively.
The ladies 1000 meters event was won by Jorien ter Mors. Bernadett Heidum of Hungary finished second ahead of Veronique Pierron of France. On the men's side, Fauconnet finished first ahead of Knegt. Third place finish went to Evgenii Kozulin of Russia.
With both the ladies and men's championship titles up for grabs entering the 3000m event, there was some exciting racing ahead. While Fontana had a comfortable lead going into the last race, she took no chances and won the 3000m event, clinching her second consecutive European championship title. Second place finisher was Jorien ter Mors while Olga Belyakova of Russia was third. On the men's side, several skaters were still in contention for the overall championship title entering the last event. While Kerstholt finished first in the event, it was Niels' fourth place finish that secured him the championship title. Second and third place in the 3000m event went to Elistratov (RUS) and Fauconnet (FRA).
The weekend's racing concluded with relay events, and for a second year in a row, the Netherlands took the win in both the ladies and men's events. Second place in the ladies 3000 meters relay event went to Italy, while Hungary took third. In the men's 5000 meters relay event, Russia finished second, ahead of Germany.
Europe's best short track speed skaters will join the rest of the world as the ISU World Cup Season resumes in Moscow, Russia on February 3-5, 2012.