Season preview: Short-track speedskating

Helmets, close quarters, right turns — that’s short track. Copyright 2011 Thomas Di Nardo / Bella Faccie Sports Media via U.S. Speedskating

From the grace, artistry and predictability of figure skating, we turn to the wild world of short-track speedskating. Figure skating may be in the hands of the judges, but short-track skating is often in the hands of the refs, who have to determine whether skaters false-started, changed their lines, impeded each other or went all-out roller derby on each other. Does anyone envy that job?

Storylines

– New U.S. coaches and a split camp. Some skaters filed a claim of physical and emotional abuse against head coach Jae Su Chun and assistant Jun Hyung Yeo. Others disagreed. But while they may have beaten the rap on the abuse charges, they admitted they knew U.S. skater Simon Cho had tampered with Canadian Olivier Jean’s skates at the 2011 World Team Championships. So the coaches are gone. Are the bad feelings gone as well?

– Not that South Korea ever dominated short-track speedskating quite to the extent that, say, China dominates badminton and table tennis, but going a couple of years without a South Korean woman in the World Championship overall top three is a little surprising.

Events

World Cup
Oct. 19-21: Calgary
Oct. 26-28: Montreal
Nov. 30-Dec. 2: Nagoya, Japan
Dec. 7-9: Shanghai
Feb. 1-3: Sochi, Russia
Feb. 8-10: Dresden, Germany

U.S. Championships
Dec. 20-22: Salt Lake City

World Championships
March 8-10: Debrecen, Hungary

Qualifying

World Cup: The top five overall in the U.S. Single Distance Championships (yes, “overall” and “single distance” are contradictory, but bear with us) qualified for the World Cup teams.

World Championship: Separate qualifying process.

How to watch

The International Skating Union promises some live streaming.

Names to know

With the exception of Apolo Anton Ohno, every U.S. skater from the 2010 Olympics is still active. Could Ohno come back again?

Women

– Lana Gehring (USA):  Bronze medalist (500m) at 2012 World Championships in addition to relay silver. On 2010 Olympic bronze-medal relay team. Good 2011-12 World Cup season: 3rd in 1,500m, 4th in 1,000m — won both distances at February meet in the Netherlands. Co-wrote statement in support of Chun.

– Jessica Smith (USA): U.S. overall champion. 2012 Worlds relay silver medalist. Stuck with inline skating into her mid-20s and switched to the ice in time to be a 2010 Olympic alternate. Co-wrote statement in support of Chun.

– Alyson Dudek (USA): On 2010 Olympic bronze-medal relay team. One of Chun’s accusers.

– Emily Scott (USA): 2012 Worlds relay silver medalist. Five-time inline skating world champion, in third year with U.S. short-track team.

– Sarah Chen (USA): Only 17 (born March 15, 1995). Finished second at U.S. championships. Former track cyclist.

– Katherine Reutter (USA, not on World Cup team): Huge year in 2011: World champion at 1,500m, World Cup champion at 1,000m and 1,500m, second overall at Worlds with a a silver and a bronze in addition to gold. Won silver in 2010 Olympics (at 1,000 meters) in addition to bronze from relay. Rehabbing from hip injuries and didn’t compete at U.S. Championships but still listed as a Category I skater. Officially neutral in Chun dispute.

– Kimberly Derrick (USA): Finished seventh at U.S. championships but added to team as discretionary pick. On 2010 Olympic bronze-medal relay team. Also competed in 2006 Olympics one day after grandfather’s death. Signed statement in support of Chun. Updated with addition to World Cup team.

– Allison Baver (USA, not on World Cup team): Three-time Olympian. Didn’t make World Cup team (finished eighth at U.S. championships). One of Chun’s accusers. Has had injury problems and is also dabbling in long-track skating.

– Tamara Frederick (USA): Has World Cup experience. Finished sixth in U.S. championships but didn’t get discretionary pick, bypassed in favor of more experienced Derrick. Signed statement in support of Chun.

– Li Jianrou (China): Reigning world champion (overall and 1,500m). Second in 2011-12 World Cup at 1,000m.

– Ha-Ri Cho (South Korea): 2011 overall world champion. In 2012: World champion at 1,000m, World Cup champion at 1,500m. A decade of international experience.

– Arianna Fontana (Italy): 2010 bronze medalist at 500m. Third in 2011 and 2012 Worlds. World Cup champion at 500m.

Top finishers by year:

World Championships overall:

  • 2006: Sun-Yu Jin (South Korea), Wang Meng (China), Kalyna Roberge (Canada)
  • 2007:  Jin, Eun-Ju Jung (South Korea), Roberge
  • 2008: Wang, Zhou Yang (China), Shin-Young Yang (South Korea) // 7th – Katherine Reutter (USA)
  • 2009: Wang, Ming-Jung Kim (South Korea), Zhou // 7th – Reutter, 8th – Kimberly Derrick (USA)
  • 2010: Seung-Hi Park (South Korea), Wang, Ha-Ri Cho (South Korea) // 6th – Reutter
  • 2011: Cho, Reutter, Arianna Fontana (Italy)

2012 World Championships:

  • Overall: Li Jianrou (China), Valerie Maltais (Canada), Arianna Fontana (Italy) // 8th – Lana Gehring (USA)
  • 500m: Fan Kexin (China), Fontana, Gehring
  • 1,000m: Ha-Ri Cho (South Korea), Li, Maltais
  • 1,500m: Li, Liu Qiuhong (China), Marie-Eve Drolet (Canada)
  • 3,000m: Maltais, Fontana, Drolet
  • Relay: China, USA, South Korea

2012 World Cup standings:

  • 500m: Arianna Fontana (Italy), Martina Valcepina (Italy), Liu Quihong (China) // 6th – Jessica Smith (USA)
  • 1,000m: Yui Sakai (Japan), Li Jianrou (China), Elise Christie (Britain) // 4th – Lana Gehring (USA)
  • 1,500m: Ha-Ri Cho (China), Eun-Byul Lee (South Korea), Gehring // 4th – Katherine Reutter (USA)
  • Relay: China, USA, Japan

2010 Olympics:

  • 500m: Wang Meng (China), Marianne St-Gelais (Canada), Arianna Fontana (Italy)
  • 1,000m: Wang, Katherine Reutter (USA), Seung-Hi Park (South Korea)
  • 1,500m: Zhou Yang (China), Eun-Byul Lee (South Korea), Park
  • Relay: China, Canada, USA

2006 Olympics

  • 500m: Wang Meng (China), Evgenia Radanova (Bulgaria), Anouk Leblanc-Boucher (Canada)
  • 1,000m: Sun-Yu Jin (South Korea), Wang, Yang Yang-A (China)
  • 1,500m: Sun, Eun-Kyung Choi (South Korea), Wang
  • Relay: South Korea, Canada, Italy

Men

– J.R. Celski (USA): U.S. overall champion. Won bronze in 2010 (at 1,500 meters) in addition to relay bronze. Then took a year off to start a film company in Seattle. Second overall in 2009 World Championships (won 3,000m); fourth overall in 2010. Still holds junior world records at 500m and 1,000m, set in 2009. One of Chun’s accusers.

– Jeff Simon (USA): Back after dealing with back problems. One of Chun’s accusers and said he would not compete on World Cup circuit if coaches were still in place.

– Travis Jayner (USA):  On 2010 bronze-medal relay team. Good 2010-11 season: World relay bronze, third in World Cup 1,000m. One of Chun’s accusers.

– Chris Creveling (USA):  Signed statement in support of Chun. New to international competition.

– Kyle Carr (USA): 2011 World relay bronze. One of Chun’s accusers.

– John-Henry Krueger (USA): Youngster finished sixth at U.S. championships and was added to World Cup team as discretionary pick. Signed statement in support of Chun.

– Simon Cho (USA, not on World Cup team): At center of skate-tampering controversy. 2011 world champion at 500m, fourth overall. On 2010 bronze-medal relay team. Finished ninth in U.S. championships.

– Jordan Malone (USA, not on World Cup team): On 2010 bronze-medal relay team but had a few problems in the U.S. championships. One of Chun’s accusers.

– Charles Hamelin (Canada): Veteran won 2010 Olympic gold at 500m. World Championship medalist in odd years: silver in 2007, bronze in 2009, silver in 2011. Great World Cup in 2009-10: 1st at 500m, 2nd at 1,500m, 3rd at 1,000m.

– Yoon-Gy Kwak (South Korea): Reigning world champion (overall, 1,000m, 3,000m). 2012 World Cup champion at 1,000m.

– Jinkyu Noh (South Korea): 2011 overall world champion and world junior champion; overall runner-up and 1,500m champion in 2012. Also World Cup 1,500m champion in 2012.

– Olivier Jean (Canada): Third overall in Worlds and won 500m, where he was also the World Cup champion. The target of the skate tampering that tore apart the U.S. team. You have to see his picture.

Top finishers by year:

World Championships overall:

  • 2006: Hyun-Soo Ahn (South Korea), Ho-Suk Lee (South Korea), Francois-Louis Tremblay (Canada) // 9th – Rusty Smith (USA)
  • 2007: Ahn, Charles Hamelin (Canada), Apolo Anton Ohno (USA) // 7th – Jordan Malone (USA)
  • 2008: Ohno, H-S Lee, Kyung-Taek Song (South Korea)
  • 2009: H-S Lee, J.R. Celski (USA), Hamelin // 5th – Ohno, 10th – Jeff Simon (USA)
  • 2010: H-S Lee, Yoon-Gy Kwak (South Korea), Liang Wenhao (China) // 4th – J.R. Celski (USA)
  • 2011:  Jinkyu Noh (South Korea), Hamelin, Liang // 4th – Simon Cho (USA), 5th – Jeff Simon (USA)

2012 World Championships:

  • Overall: Yoon-Gy Kwak (South Korea), Jinkyu Noh (South Korea), Olivier Jean (Canada) // 15th – Simon Cho (USA)
  • 500m: Jean, Charles Hamelin (Canada), Kwak
  • 1,000m: Kwak, Noh, Hamelin
  • 1,500m: Noh, Kwak, Da Woon Sin (South Korea)
  • 3,000m: Kwak, Noh, Sin
  • Relay: Canada, Netherlands, South Korea

2012 World Cup:

  • 500m: Olivier Jean (Canada), Charles Hamelin (Canada), Liang Wenhao (China) // 10th – Simon Cho (USA)
  • 1,000m: Yoon-Gy Kwak (South Korea), Jinkyu Noh (South Korea), Jean //5th – J.R. Celski (USA)
  • 1,500m: Noh, Da Woon Sin (South Korea), Kwak // 10th – John-Henry Krueger (USA)

2010 Olympics:

  • 500m: Charles Hamelin (Canada), Si-Bak Sung (South Korea), Francois-Louis Tremblay (Canada)
  • 1,000m: Jung-Su Lee (South Korea), Ho-Suk Lee (South Korea), Apolo Anton Ohno (USA)
  • 1,500m: J-S Lee, Ohno, J.R. Celski (USA)
  • Relay: Canada, South Korea, USA

2006 Olympics

  • 500m: Apolo Anton Ohno (USA), Francois-Louis Tremblay (Canada), Hyun-Soo Ahn (South Korea)
  • 1,000m: Ahn, Ho-Suk Lee (South Korea), Ohno
  • 1,500m: Ahn, Lee, Li Jiajun (China)
  • Relay: South Korea, Canada, USA

 

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