The 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships take place in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, from Friday, March 5 to Sunday, March 7. The Men’s field is as wide open as it ever has been going into an ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, following the withdrawal of the Republic of Korea and China teams from the competition.
There have been only four Men’s overall champions from outside these two nations this century. The 2019 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Champion, Lim Hyojun (KOR) will not get to defend his title, nor will 2019/20 No.1-ranked skater Park Ji Won (KOR) get a shot at his first.
Itzhak de Laat (NED) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2021©International Skating Union (ISU)
There is added unpredictability due to the pandemic, too. As Israel’s Vladislav Bykanov told us recently, it is normally the first ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating race of the season where you see outsiders making it on to the podium, or big names struggling to get going.
This year, there have been no ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating events meaning the athletes’ usual rhythm of peaking for the World Championships has not been possible.
The outcome of this was illustrated at the recent ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland, which was many of the continent’s men’s first race of the season. Semen Elistratov (RUS) won the title ahead of the Hungarian favorites, Shaolin Sandor Liu and his younger brother, Shaoang Liu, who didn’t seem at their brilliant race-fit best.
Semen Elistratov (RSU) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2021©International Skating Union (ISU)
Meanwhile, Pietro Sighel (ITA), with a world ranking of 61st in 2019-20, came out of nowhere to win the 3000m Superfinal in Gdansk and finish second overall, and Konstantin Ivliev (RUS), ranked 35th, won the 500m.
Elistratov’s recent brilliance – particularly in the 1000m and 1500m – and ample big-competition experience perhaps make him the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships favorite.
But the Liu brothers, despite their uncharacteristic ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championship showing, will also fancy their chances in Dordrecht. The duo work as a team in this most individual of sports, blocking and covering for each other where possible.
Steven Dubois (CAN) at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating (NED) 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
It’s also an opportunity for Canada’s Steven Dubois, who can be competitive in all three distances, to go for his first ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships podium.
The home team should have plenty to cheer too, however. While that will most likely be in the Ladies’ field, with Suzanne Schulting going for the title, their men are also on the up.
Itzhak de Laat has been steadily improving, finishing third overall in the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships, and their top male racer of the last decade, Sjinkie Knegt, also hinted at a return to form after a couple of years ruined by injuries.
Sjinkie Knegt (NED) at the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2021©International Skating Union (ISU)
It’s a huge outside bet for the 2015 overall ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Champion Knegt to grab the overall title again on his comeback. But then strange things have been happening for the last 12 months, so who can completely dismiss the possibility? It’d be some scene at the Optisport Sportboulevard if he got anywhere close.
Where to Watch
Viewers will be able to watch the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel.
All the information is available in the Where to Watch. For further information regarding the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, including the announcement and entry list please visit the dedicated ISU Event Page and listen to The Ice Skating Podcast.
Subscribe to the ISU Newsletter to receive the latest information from the ISU and you can also subscribe to the Skating ISU YouTube Channel to receive notifications when live streams or new videos are published.
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