The ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2016 will be held in Sofia, Bulgaria on January 29-31. It is the first time that Bulgaria hosts these World Junior Championships where 193 skaters from 39 ISU Members have been entered to compete.
At the World Junior Championships only allround titles are up for grabs. The allround classification is based on the results of each skater in the three individual distances 500m, 1000m, 1500m and if qualified the 1500m Super Final. Only the top eight point scorers and ties on the eighth position after the completion of the three first distances will skate the 1500m Super Final. For the individual distances the final points 34, 21, 13, 8, 5, 3, 2 and 1 are awarded in descending order commencing with the first place. No points are awarded to skaters who receive a yellow or red card or failed to finish the race.
The reigning Junior World Champions and the other medalists in the Ladies and Men’s fields will not compete, therefore new champions will be crowned this weekend. As always, Korea will be a team to watch with some young skaters entered to compete at the championships. In the Ladies’ field, China will have a few skaters that have competed successfully in World Cup events this season: Chunyu Qu won a bronze medal in the 500m in Shanghai (CHN) and Yize Zang finished fourth in the 1000m in Nagoya (JPN). Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands will be a skater to watch, having won a bronze medal in the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships that were held this past weekend. Anna Seidel (GER) also competed in the European Championships, and enters this weekend having won a silver medal in the 500m at the World Cup in Nagoya. Last year Korea, China and Russia got gold, silver and bronze respectively in the Relay event. These teams will want to repeat their performance from last year, and will need to contend with the likes of Canada, Netherlands, Hungary and Japan. Other countries competing in the Ladies Relay include Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland and the United States.
In the Men’s field, China will also be fielding some experienced skaters: Wei Ma will be competing in his second World Junior Championships and will be hoping to improve on his sixth spot from last year, while Ziwei Ren will be competing in his third World Junior Championships, and has finished fifth overall in his first two participations. Both Ma and Ren competed in World Cup events this season, with Ren earning a gold medal in the 1500m on home soil in Shanghai. Artem Kozlov of Russia will be another skater to watch, having earned two individual World Cup medals in the 500m distance this season: a silver in Nagoya and a bonze medal in Montreal. In the Relay, defending Champions Team Korea will try to defend their title while Russia and Japan who earned silver and bronze respectively will aim to repeat and better yet, improve on their results. There will be tough competition from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Canada, China, France, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Chinese Taipei, Turkey, Ukraine and USA.
The schedule of the ISU World Junior Short Track Championships 2016 is as follows:
Friday, January 29: Qualifying Rounds 1500, 500, 1000 meters Ladies & Men
Saturday, January 30: Ranking Races 1500, 500 meters Ladies & Men; Semi-Finals & Finals 1500 meters Ladies & Men; Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals & Finals 500 meters Ladies & Men; Semi-Finals 3000 meters Relay Ladies; Semi-Finals 3000 meters Relay Men
Sunday, January 31: Ranking Races 1000 meters Ladies & Men; Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals & Finals 1000 meters Ladies & Men; Super-Finals 1500 meters Ladies & Men; Finals 3000 meters Relay Ladies; Finals 3000 meters Relay Men