Five members of the GB Short Track Speed Skating team are in Rotterdam, the Netherlands for the biggest event on the 2016/2017 short track speed skating calendar, the ISU World Championships, from 10th -12th March.
Elise Christie (pictured left), Charlotte Gilmartin (pictured centre), Kathryn Thomson (pictured right), Joshua Cheetham and Farrell Treacy have all qualified their places in the event, now less than a year away from the 2018 Olympic Games.
For Elise Christie, 26, it’s been a season of mixed fortunes, an incredible 500m world record and five gold world cup medals before the end of 2016 were followed by two missed world cups due to concussion. Despite this, Elise, who concluded the world cup series second overall in the 500m and third overall in the 1,000m, is ready for the event this weekend and believes she has benefited from extra training opportunities whilst the final world cup took place.
Elise said: “I am looking forward to getting back out there are racing. I feel more confident in myself than ever before, physically and mentally and I know I am the one to watch. I am focused on winning, and know I can medal.”
Elise won 1,000m silver and 1,500m bronze in the 2016 World Championships, and finished overall bronze behind Choi Minjeong of Korea and Marianne St Gelais of Canada. The same athletes are contenders for medals again this year, alongside Fan Kexin (China), Suzanne Schulting (Netherlands) and Shim Suk Hee (Korea). Both Minjeong and St Gelais edged just ahead of Christie in the end of this seasons world cup rankings, St Gelais in 500m first place, whilst Minjeong finished in 1,000m second place.
Team captain, Charlotte Gilmartin 26, has also produced world class results, and for her it’s been across all three individual distances. This season she has achieved 1,000m and 1,500m world cup bronze medals and was the 500m European Championship bronze medallist.
She is world cup ranked 4th overall in the 1,500m after finishing in the finals of the last five events. Charlotte is looking for her first World Championship medal.
Charlotte said: “I am really excited purely because in each competition this year I have been gaining momentum and moving forward. Winning two medals back to back is a good place to be.
“The world championships are quite different to world cups, there are no second chances if you go out in the first round, but there is the opportunity to compete in all three individual distances which never happens at world cups. I thrive under pressure so can’t wait to see what I can do.
“I’ve been most consistent in the 1,500m this season, with 5 consecutive A finals, but my preference is still the 500m. I just love going fast, decision making has to be fast and there is no time for errors.”
It will be the first World Championships for the other members of the team, who will be aiming to gain experience and strong personal results. Kathryn Thomson, 21, is the third member of the ladies team and is closely following in the footsteps of her female teammates.
She has picked up personal best times and consistently qualified in the world cup event, she was a semi-finalist in the 1,000m at World Cup 6.
The men’s team are, Farrell Treacy 21, world cup 1,000m semi finalist and Josh Cheetham 24, world cup 1,500m semi finalist. Josh said: “I am pleased with the way this season has progressed. I worked on my weaknesses at the beginning of the season with my coaches and in the latter stages picked up top 16 places in the 1,500m.
“The worlds are a great opportunity for me; I am excited to be skating against the best in the world and can’t wait to get stuck in.”
Finishing at the top the men’s end of world cup rankings in the individual events are Wu Dajing, 500m (China), Shaoang Lui, 1,000m (Hungary) and Sjinkie Knegt, 1,500m (Netherlands).