GB Short Track Speed Skating began their Olympic Qualifying campaign on Thursday 28th September at the Puskas Stadium, Budapest, the first of four Audi ISU World Cup competitions which form the Olympic Qualifying events this season.
With heats for all individual and relay distances taking place on Thursday and Friday, it was the more experienced female athletes on the British team who shone in the individual events and were able to progress to the final 2 days.
Charlotte Gilmartin and Elise Christie eased into the 1500m semi finals, and 500m and 1000m quarterfinals. Displaying impressive confidence to start the season, 21 year old Kathryn Thomson also got through to the latter stages of the 1500m and 1000m.
Christie, 27, narrowly missed out on a medal in the 1500m final and finished in 4th place, the race won by Min Jeong Choi of Korea. Meanwhile, Gilmartin, 27, reached the B final of the 1500m, finishing in 7th place.
Korea, who will host the Olympic Games next year, dominated across the mens and womens events over the weekend. Choi also took the 500m title on Saturday, with the British ladies out of contention, and unsuccessful in reaching the A final.
In Sunday’s competition Elise Christie had a straightforward 1000m quarter final win, whilst Gilmartin tripped at the start of her race with a technical blade issue and was unable to catch up. Thomson raced well in a good time of 1.31.152 but finished in 4th place.
An unfortunate start to the World Cup series for Gilmartin she said,
“I am feeling in good form, and it was fun to be racing again. I fought all the way but was unlucky with two crashes on Saturday, and I had blade issues today. I am looking forward to World Cup 2 next week”.
Christie maintained a strong level throughout the 1000m semi final and final where her skill and tactics played an important role, and finished with a bronze medal win in a time of 1.34.852. Choi took the title in 1.34.600 to make a hat trick of individual golds, with Kim Boutin of Canada in second.
The British team are now looking ahead to World Cup 2 next weekend in the Netherlands where they will hope to build on their performances in Hungary.
At the end of the World Cup series, the best three out of four results across the series will determine Olympic qualification.