Santos-Griswold Scores Three Gold Medals In Historic Showing At Four Continents
by Paul D. Bowker
A full weekend of podiums for US Speedskating, with Kristen Santos-Griswold sweeping all three individual races and the first international medals of the season for Andrew Heo and the Mixed 2000m Relay Team.
Santos-Griswold, a 2022 Olympian who has consistently medaled in every World Cup event the past two seasons, dominated the ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships over the weekend in Laval, Canada.
Santos-Griswold became not only the first U.S. skater in history to capture an individual Gold medal at the Four Continents Championships, but she did it three times. Santos-Griswold won the Women’s 500m, 1000m and 1500m races, all in two days.
Santos-Griswold’s triple wins were part of a five-medal weekend for the U.S. Andrew Heo, a 2022 Olympian, won a Bronze medal in the Men’s 500m, and the Mixed 2000m Relay Team of Heo, Marcus Howard, Julie Letai and Santos-Griswold won a Silver medal.
Santos-Griswold finished her individual sweep with a victory Sunday in the 1000m, cruising past Canada Olympian Courtney Sarault with three laps to go. Santos-Griswold won with a time of 1 minute, 28.706 seconds, defeating Sarault by half a second.
Since the Four Continents event began in 2020, no one has swept the individual races except for two during the first year of competitions. only two skaters have swept the individual races, with both doing so that first year.
“That’s pretty cool,” Santos-Griswold said. “I feel really good. This is a big confidence builder going into the rest of the season. The race started off a lot faster than I anticipated. I had to stay calm. It was pretty hectic.”
On Saturday, Santos-Griswold won the 500m in 42.760 seconds, more than a full second quicker than runner-up Park Jiwon of South Korea. She also won the 1500m that day with a time of 2:26.191. It’s a distance she medaled in twice last week at the second Montreal World Cup.
“I’ve always liked every distance, and I’ve tried hard not to put myself in a box of being solely a distance skater,” she said. “I love speed but don’t always have the best start out there. That’s something I’m working on, and I just want to continue to give myself opportunities in every distance.”
Santos-Griswold now has eight career medals at the Four Continents Championships. This year’s performance is building on a hot start to the 2023-24 season for the Connecticut native, which also includes four individual World Cup podium finishes and two relay medals. She ranks second in the World Cup overall standings behind South Korea’s Kim Gilli, who did not compete in the Four Continents.
“For the rest of the season, I just want to build off this and keep being more confident,” Santos-Griswold said. “I want to show what I can do at the World Championships, especially.”
The U.S. almost had two skaters reach the podium in the 500m. Letai crossed the line third but was penalized due to an arm tangle with Canada’s Florence Brunelle.
Heo, medaling in the Men’s 500m for the second straight year, finished third behind Canadians Steven Dubois and Jordan Pierre-Gilles with a time of 40.299 seconds for his first podium of the season.
One year after winning the inaugural Four Continents Mixed Relay, the U.S. finished a close second behind Canada. Santos-Griswold, Heo and Howard were all part of last year’s team as well.
Letai and Eunice Lee reached the B Final in the Women’s 1500m. Also reaching B Finals were Heo and Howard in the Men’s 1500m, and Howard in the 500m.
The global short track season is off for the next month, resuming in December with a pair of World Cup stops in Asia. Next up is the third World Cup of the season Dec. 8-10 in Beijing.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic and Paralympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to USSpeedskating.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.