Debrecen, Hungary

 #UpAgain      #ShortTrackSkating


After the wild party for Shaolin Sandor Liu’s 26th birthday on Saturday, with the Hungarian favourite winning the 500m, Sunday was a more subdued affair for the home crowd. Shaolin and his brother Shaoang Liu (HUN) suffered a series of crashes and penalties to leave the locals disappointed. 

But in a wide open men’s field – there is no male equivalent of the all-conquering Suzanne Schulting (NED) – two skaters, Hwang Daeheon (KOR) and Pascal Dion (CAN), bolstered their reputations further as the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games approach.

Daeheon Hwang Hwang Daeheon (KOR) | 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

Hwang has been a consistent threat in the 500m and 1500m all season, and the 2019 World Champion in the 500m looked at his very best on Saturday. 

The Korean secured the 1000m with a cool skate. Dion had taken the lead after three laps and looked a likely winner, but the Canadian ended up wrestling for a line with his teammate Jordan Pierre-Gilles (CAN), allowing Hwang to move up from the back in the final lap.

Dion settled for silver, with the steadily improving Itzak de Laat (NED) taking bronze. Afterwards, everyone seemed just moderately satisfied. 

“I was happy to win the gold medal, but I do not think the race was perfect,” said Hwang. “I have a lot of work to do on my conditioning and a lot to improve upon. I have to keep working and get better if I’m going to win more.” 

Dion remains narrowly ahead of Hwang in the 1000m rankings, and is relishing the tight level of competition.

Hwang and Dion Hwang Daeheon (KOR) and Pascal Dion (CAN) | 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

“It’s true that we don’t have a Schulting in the men’s field,” said Dion. “Anything can happen, anyone can makes passes, and that makes it exciting. The races are so tight, but I’m staying consistent. 

“It’s hard racing Hwang. You know he is going to go fast at the end. But I got a bit unlucky bumping my teammate at the end. I lost some speed, so maybe without that, I could have won.” 

De Laat can also take heart that he can be in the mix for podiums as Beijing looms. “I’m pretty happy,” he said. “In Nagoya and here I’ve been making finals, so I can see it’s not an accident, and in the 1000m I’m doing good. 

“I feel better every competition. I usually have a hard time at the start of the season and then improve. So hopefully I can get better again in Dordrecht next week. 

“The men’s field is so open, there are 20 or 30 guys that can make finals. You can win gold or be out in the heats. It’s a real battle.” 

Canada Men's Relay Team

Canada (CAN) Men's 5000m Relay team | 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

Canada seal gold in relay

Dion’s day improved further as he secured the men’s 5000m relay gold alongside Pierre-Gilles, Charles Hamelin and Steven Dubois. The Canadians held off Hwang and the Koreans, who got silver, and Hungary, who took bronze. 

Dion was overjoyed at that medal – and now admits that while he initially thought he might just be benefiting from a short burst of good form at the start of the season, he is now right up there with the top contenders. 

“It was a great race, and I’ve had five A finals in six races now, so I can see that this is not just luck for me,” said Dion. “I’ve also had four medals in six races. That is kind of fantastic. I am just feeling really good on the ice. The confidence is there, the legs are there, and I know I can race against the best.”

China won the 2000m mixed relay, with Canada second and France third. The action moves on to Dordrecht in the Netherlands next week, where the final Olympic places will be won and lost. Hwang and Dion, at least, will know they should be booked on that cherished flight to Beijing.


The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series consists of four events during 2021/22 and they are all qualifying events for Beijing 2022.