The ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2021 concluded in Gdansk, Poland with Russia’s Semen Elistratov securing his third European overall title after an explosive finish in the 1000m final.
The 30-year-old held the fifth and last position for seven of the race’s nine laps, sprinting from fourth to first place on the final lap. Hungary’s John-Henry Krueger finished the race in second, with the Netherlands’ Itzhak de Laat taking bronze.
“Today I’m very, very happy,” Elistratov said. “My tactic was nice. For most of the distance I was looking out and waiting. Four laps to go. Three laps to go. When it was two laps to go I just went, ‘Go, go, go’ and now I am European champion. I will take two-three days of rest and then start training for the World Championships [5-7 March].”
Semen Elistratov (RUS) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Elistratov finished top of the overall classification having also won the 1500m final on Saturday. His previous European overall titles came in Sochi, Russia in 2016, and Turin, Italy the following year.
Elistratov won with a total of 71 points, while Pietro Sighel of Italy took overall silver, and De Laat bronze, both amassing 55 points and separated by their 3000m Superfinal result.
Sighel proved that winning his first-ever international senior medal on Saturday was not a fluke. The 21-year-old followed up his 500m silver with victory in Sunday’s 3000m Superfinal, sprinting from the back of the scrum to take the lead with only two of the 27 laps remaining. De Laat finished second, with Krueger third.
“It was definitely very unexpected,” Sighel said. “I came here 100 percent ready as always, I gave it my maximum and the medals came here unexpectedly as they are my first ones.
“I came to the Superfinal more rested than the others as they had been racing (the 1000m finals) before it, so it was a bit lucky to have fallen on Friday (in the 1000m heats) and be out already.
“In the race I tried to consume as little energy as possible to be able to push it to the maximum in the last laps and in the end I got a great result, winning the Superfinal and finishing second overall.”
Pietro Sighel (ITA) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Before this weekend, Sighel’s best senior individual result was his 20th place in the World Cup in Shanghai in December 2019. Now he can look ahead to the World Championships with an appetite for more success.
“It tastes great for the emotions it brings,” he said after biting his new silver medal. “But Italian food tastes better.”
The Netherlands controlled the Men’s 5000m Relay final, winning the gold medal ahead of Italy in second and bronze medalists Russia.
“We went to the front in the right moment,” Dutchman Dylan Hoogerwerf said.
“Our plan was to get to the front in the last 12 laps and we did that. Behind us they were all passing each other but we were in the front. I think it was the right decision to make.”
De Laat, who had finished third in the 500m as well as the 1000m and overall in Gdansk, was happy to end the weekend on the top step of the podium.
“I feel that I could’ve been at least second so I am happy to finish with the Relay and give us a gold medal, so it still feels like I have won a lot this weekend,” he said.
“I’m happy that I skated well so that I’ve got some experience and confidence to go to the World Championships. I think that I’m doing a really good job. The level is so high, everyone is so close, you can finish first or you can become 20th or something and if I keep this level up in Dordrecht (at the World Championships) I have a good chance for medals there as well.”
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