This weekend, eight of GB Short Track’s younger skaters took to the ice in Albertville, France for the final in six-strong competition series ISU Star Class. Three days of strong skating saw the group leave with five medals, one personal best, five skaters qualified for the Europa Cup Final, and Kathryn Thomson crowned 2015/16 Star Class Ladies Champion.
The first day of competition saw skaters compete in the 1500m distance. In what was an action packed day, the young GB team continued to improve their racing skills as they faced challenging but thrilling 1500m events.
After a strong performance in Nottingham in January, here in Albertville Kathryn Thomson once again dominated the field and proved far too strong for the opposition. This led her to winning Gold in the Ladies 1500m; her eighth medal for the Star Class series so far. For Jennifer Pickering who was only one lap away from joining Thomson on the podium, an unfortunate fall on the final lap while in third place meant she had to settle for 7th position.
“I am very happy and pleased with myself to have won a medal. It’s a really good confidence boost ahead of the star class finals.”
Alongside Thomson, showing a strong start to the weekend, Josh Cheetham and Billy Simms took Silver and Bronze respectively in the Men’s 1500m. This final race came to an exciting conclusion with overtakes and crashes a plenty in the last few laps. Cheetham and Simms were able to show their experience at this level to make it to the podium.
“It is always fantastic to win a medal and I feel this has been a real confidence boost for me. I cannot wait for tomorrow’s 500m”
There were further strong performances in the juniors with Jonathan Moody finishing 5th in the Men’s Junior B 1500m, and Team Captain, Aydin Djemal taking 10th place in the Men’s Junior A 1500m.
On Saturday, the second day of competition, the GB Short Track team were faced with big challenges. The 500m races proved a tough test for the athletes and it was only Thomson that managed to make the podium.
Yet again, Thomson was far too good for the rest of the field as she lead each lap of every race and looked unstoppable on the way to claiming her second gold medal of the weekend. Jennifer Pickering was once again just shy of the medals, finishing 4th in the final.
Team Captain, Aydin Djemal led by example out on Saturday. Although he narrowly missed out on a medal finishing in 4th place, he was able to skate a personal best with a time of 43.30. For the other men, action packed races saw Jack Burrows involved in two crashes, and Billy Simms and Jonathan Moody crashing out in their respective semi-finals.
“I was really happy with the team today. I thought they coped well with the ups and downs of the competition. They were able to stay focused of the goal even when things didn’t go to plan. On a personal note it was an amazing feeling to skate a personal best in the 500m, which I hope I will be breaking again soon.”
The third and final day of competition on Sunday saw Kathryn Thomson and the team ending on a high with the 1000m races in what was the final Star Class event of the season.
For Thomson, a 2nd place finish in the Ladies 1000m took her Star Class medal tally to an outstanding 11 for the season. This meant that not only did Thomson win the overall competition this weekend, but she was also crowned the 2015/16 Ladies Star Class Champion.
In the Junior Ladies Jennifer Pickering took 2nd place in the overall competition standings, placing her 3rd in this season’s Star Class rankings.
Thomson and Pickering’s impressive rankings mean that they have now qualified for the Europa Cup Finals in Budapest later this month. The Ladies will be joined by team mates Billy Simms and Josh Cheetham in the Senior Men’s category and Jonathan Moody, who will compete in Junior Men.
GB Short Track Team Manager for the weekend, Jon Eley said;
“The goal for the team was for our young athletes to continue their development around race skills and coping with the competition environment. All of the athletes would agree that it’s been a tough weekend of racing with a great deal of highs and lows. The key to success at this competition for the athletes is to take confidence from the highs and most importantly learn from their disappointing lows.”
Full results from this competition can be found here
The Europa Cup Final takes place from 18th to 20th March and will be the end of season finale. The competition matches the eight highest ranked skaters from Western Europe against the eight highest ranked from Eastern Europe within each category.
Published: 29th February 2016