Charles Hamelin (CAN) prepares in the Men's 1000m semi- final at the 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht, Netherlands. © ISU
The 2022 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships take place at the Maurice-Richard Arena, Montreal, from April 8-10 and several big names will be looking to write their own piece of history in Canada.
Medals will be awarded in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m in the Men’s and Women’s competitions, the 3000m Women’s Relay and the 5000m Men’s Relay. There will be no Mixed Relay medal. Points won during the individual distances plus a 3000m Super-Final will accumulate to crown the overall champion. The Men’s field looks wide open for a new winner while in the Women’s, two legends will battle for further supremacy.
Schulting (NED) and Choi (KOR) go head-to-head again
Schulting, 24, is aiming to win her third title - and third in a row - after prevailing in 2019 and 2021 (2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic). The Dutch skater is in brilliant form, having come away from the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games with four medals, including gold in the 1000m and the Women’s Relay.
Suzanne Schulting (NED) competing during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China.© AFP
Strong and supremely confident, Schulting hardly ever loses in the 1000m and her chances of prevailing overall are now better than ever thanks to the improvements she has made in the 500m; she can medal across all three key distances.
Choi, 23, is also extremely versatile and will push Schulting every inch of the way. The overall Champion in 2015, 2016 and 2018 is seeking a fourth title. Should she achieve that mark, Yang Yang of China (six titles) and Sylvie Daigle (five titles) will be the only women to have won more.
Choi has had a difficult couple of seasons marred by injury but returned to her best form at the end of this season and won the 1500m gold at the Beijing 2022 Games in dominant style.
Gold medallist Minjeong Choi (KOR) poses during the Women's 1500m medal ceremony at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.© Getty Images
Who can challenge this pair, for individual titles if not overall? No Chinese skaters are attending and with big names like Arianna Fontana (ITA), Kristen Santos (USA) and Lee Yu Bin (KOR) all absent too, it looks like a good time for the home nation to step up.
Kim Boutin (CAN) (L) and Courtney Sarault (CAN) compete during the women's 1500m short track speed skating even at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.© AFP
In the Relay, the slick Netherlands team will be the favorites, with Korea and Canada putting in a strong challenge.
Liu (HUN) skating for second title
Might we see a brand-new Men’s overall champion? The likelihood is strong with an open field as the most recent winners are either out or past their prime.
The exception to this is Shaoang Liu (HUN), who will be aiming to retain the debut title he won in Dordrecht a year ago.
Shaoang Liu (HUN) reacts in the Men's 1000m final during the 2021 ISU World Cup Short Track in Dordrecht, Netherlands. © ISU
Liu has the advantage of being a force across all the individual distances and will be boosted by his performances at Beijing 2022, where he became the first ever Hungarian to win an individual Winter Olympic gold. He won the 500m and took bronze in the 1000m.
Liu will miss the on-ice assistance – and rivalry – of his brother, Shaolin Sandor (HUN), who has not entered. Shaolin secured silver in this event last year when the siblings functioned as a unit. It will be interesting watching Shaoang skate without him.
Optimism will be high among the crowd, however, for something special to be produced by the home skaters.
Steven Dubois (CAN) earned gold (5000m Relay), silver (1500m) and bronze (500m) at Beijing 2022, showing a skill and savvy that could well put him in the mix for the podium this week.
Team Canada with Charles Hamelin, Steven Dubois, Jordan Pierre-Gilles and Pascal Dion celebrate winning the Gold medal during the Men's 5000m Relay Final at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. © Getty Images
Romantics, however, will be rooting for Charles Hamelin (CAN). The 37-year-old, who made his World Cup debut in 2004, is retiring after this event – and what better way to bow out than with glory on home ice?
Hamelin has won the lot at previous World Championships, with gold medals in all three individual events and the Relay, as well as becoming overall Champion in 2018.
Charles Hamelin (CNA) competing during the Men's 1500m short track speed skating event at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. © AFP
Fresh from taking gold in the Relay at Beijing 2022, the Canadian quartet, as mentioned above, will be the favorites in the 5000m again – and will be determined to send off their hero Hamelin in style.