Eight members of the GB Short Track speed skating squad begin their ISU World Cup campaign this week with the opening event in Salt Lake City, 7-9 November. The three day event consists of qualifying rounds on day one, followed by World Cup races on days two and three.
The World Cup is the first time that the skaters will compete on an international stage in the 2014-15 season, following two preparation events in Europe last month. Performance Director, Stuart Horsepool commented:
“Both preparation events for the ISU World Cup have gone well but it’s important to remember that it’s not just about the headline results, it’s about the experiences that came out of competing. The skaters started off rusty at the first competitive event of the season, but they’ve brushed that off for the World Cup and improved a lot, which was our main aim.
“This weekend is important for us as it’s the first major event since the start of the new Olympic cycle. There will be new skaters competing and a lot of uncertainty, so it will be an interesting time for us to gauge our main rivals. It will be much more clear who has made the jumps forward and who will be medalling at Pyeongchang 2018 by the end of the 2014-15 season.
Elise Christie, who took Gold overall at the Invitation Cup last month, after winning all three of the individual distances (500m, 1000m and 1500m) added: “I’m really looking forward to the World Cup. After the Invitation Cup my confidence has grown a lot and it really woke my body up to competing again.
“With it not being an Olympic Year, the pressure is not in the same league which makes competing more fun. It’s been a hard few months of training but I feel ready to get back out there again.”
“My biggest competition is probably going to be the Korean’s, but as it’s the start of a new Olympic cycle, it’s likely that all the teams will have been mixed up so we can’t yet predict who will come out on top.”
Jack Whelbourne has also had a positive start to the season after finishing second in the overall classification at the Invitation Cup. He said:
“I’m a little nervous for the World Cup because it’s the first international event of the season and the pressure that comes with competing is starting to raise its head. The dynamic of the team has changed this season, which knocked my confidence slightly, however my performance at the Invitation Cup has given me a boost and I feel like this year so far is the best I’ve ever skated.
“My main competition will come from the top European countries; Holland and Russia have very good teams. I’m excited to see where how I’ll do in the first international competition of the season.”
The ISU World Cup is held over six events. This year, the series kicks off with one stage in USA, followed by one in Canada, two in Asia and two in Europe.
After a long summer of training and honing their skills, Stuart is confident in the team’s ability. He added: “From a team perspective, we’ve kept the same squad so I don’t see any reason why they won’t continue to grow and improve, producing world class performances which will culminate in medal opportunities. We’re all raring to go and looking forward to what the season ahead has in store for us”.
Meanwhile, the junior GB skaters are currently in Bornio, Italy, competing in the 23rd annual Alta Valtellina Trophy (6-9 November).
Jon Eley, Paul Stanley, Richard Shoebridge, Jack Whelbourne, Billy Simms, Josh Cheetham, Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin have all made the selection for World Cup 1, while the remainder of the squad will compete against the rest of Europe in the Alta Valtellina Trophy.
Results for both events will be available at www.shorttrackonline.info over the weekend.