Anna Seidel (GER) reacts during the ISU World Cup Short Track 2022 in Almaty (KAZ) @ISU
After suffering a cruel injury in a training accident just before the 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht (NED), Anna Seidel (GER) found herself questioning her future in the sport.
It was her third serious setback in five injury-plagued years. Forced to the sidelines once more, the German racer knew she faced another long road to recovery.
But following a somewhat stuttering comeback in the season of her third consecutive Olympic appearance last year, things started to finally kick into gear again in the 2022/23 ISU World Cup campaign, reigniting her passion for Short Track.
Anna Seidel (GER) poses during the ISU World Cup Short Track 2022 in Almaty (KAZ) @ISU
“I feel like it was probably the most fun season I’ve ever had,”
The 25-year-old said of her 2022/23 term, during which she bagged four World Cup medals and European Championship 1500m bronze in Gdansk (POL).
Seidel announced her return to form by securing silver in the 1500m during the second World Cup leg in Salt Lake City, USA. She’d waited four years to reach the World Cup podium again, after claiming bronze in the same distance at a meet in February 2019 in Turin, Italy.
“It had been a while, for sure. I was definitely feeling a bit emotional to be up there again after all the setbacks,”
“It was like a confirmation for me that I’m still able to compete with the best.”
Seidel headed into the 2022/23 season with no expectations, wanting to go back to basics and simply enjoy her time on the ice again.
“I had a surgery last spring to remove some metal implants from my operation after the Dordrecht incident. That allowed me to really focus on what I wanted to do in my training and be carefree again over the summer,”
“I was able to put in a lot of good work ahead of the season. But the main part for me was to have fun again at the World Cup events and the Championships.
“I didn’t really set any goals for positions and stuff, I just wanted to race again without any pain. My expectations were zero, so there was no pressure.”
Seidel also learned she does not have to deal with the effects of such bad injury luck on her own.
“At the beginning, you ask yourself the questions, why is it me again? Why has it happened again? Could I have maybe done something wrong?”
Seidel said two years ago in an ISU mental health special.
Thankfully, she had a support network in place. As well as family and friends, Seidel had two mental health professionals to turn to.
“The sports psychologists taught me tools to help control my breathing when I feel shaky and offered me advice to boost my self-confidence again,”
“When I’m feeling really nervous, I try to focus on those things and remind myself to put my anxious character to the side, as I know I’m healthy and strong again."
Anna Seidel (GER) ISU World Cup Short Track 2023 Dresden (GER) @ISU
“But going there to speak to them once or twice a week constantly also helps to stop me overthink so much that it could all become a bit too overwhelming at times."
“That’s why I decided that for this year I’ll only talk to my friends and family about the competitions that are coming up. I feel like this works better for me at this point.”
Asked about her most memorable moment of the 2022/23 World Cup campaign, she smiles:
“I really wanted to perform at home this season, and I managed to do it.”
On home ice at the fifth leg of the season in Dresden (GER), Seidel was eager to fend off competition. And the nerves were starting to kick in again.
“In the first four World Cups, I wasn’t feeling that nervous because it was still the beginning of the season and I was only focusing on having fun again. But in Dresden I wanted to show what I really had to offer as well."
Seidel received a penalty in the last quarterfinal of the 1000m and thus missed out on a chance to qualify for the finals. In the 1500m (2), however, she put on an impressive display to claim an emotional silver.
Anna Seidel (GER), Kim Gilli (KOR) and Suk Hee Shim (KOR) pose during the ISU World Cup Short Track 2023 in Dresden (GER) @ISU
“I was so happy to end up on the podium. It felt like so much pressure went off my shoulders. And then I remember I started crying. I was just so relieved to get a medal at home. It was one of the best moment of my career."
“So many different girls have been on the podium this season. The field has been really strong. You never know what’s going to happen, which tactics others are choosing, so it was just a really special weekend for me.”