Kristen Santos-Griswold Strikes For Gold In All Six Finals At US Short Track Championships
by Paul D. Bowker
Kristen Santos-Griswold proved again why she deserves to be at the top after winning all six events she entered at the US Speedskating US Championships Short Track & Youth Olympic Winter Games Qualifier this past weekend.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself usually, so for this weekend, I really just wanted to try to not put pressure on myself and have fun,” said Santos-Griswold, a 2022 Olympian who won eight World Cup medals last season.
Santos-Griswold won a trio of US Championships with double victories in the Women’s 500m, 1000m and 1500m, and also set a National Record in the 1500m with a time of 2 minutes, 14.572 seconds.
“I was really nervous for that race,” Santos-Griswold said. “I mean, I’m nervous for every final.
We started off really fast and we were able to hold a good time. It’s also helpful to always have my teammates support.”
Her teammates had a successful weekend as well, with Julie Letai reaching the podium in all six races to finish second in the 500m and third in the 1000m and 1500m. 2022 Olympian Corinne Stoddard found the podium five times to finish second in the 1000m and 1500m, and third in the 500m. Stoddard also reached a Personal Best in the 1500m right behind Santos-Griswold.
“It hurt a lot. That was probably one of the most painful races I’ve ever raced. But it was worth it.” Stoddard said after her 2.15.491 finish.
Marcus Howard, who won two medals at the 2023 World Junior Championships, led the men with four podium finishes over three days of competition, including wins at all three distances. He won the National Championship in the 1500m, while Brandon Kim took the U.S. Title in the 500m and Clayton DeClemente won the 1000m National Title.
“I was planning on just chilling, but I started feeling really good.” Howard said after the 1500m final. “Then I thought, I can win this, and I tried really hard to win.”
The competition, which was held at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, was also a qualifier for the Fall World Cup Team and the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Santos-Griswold, Stoddard, Letai and Howard were among those making the World Cup team, with the first stop set Oct. 20-22 in Montreal.
“I’m excited. This season I want to go for gold and not hold anything back,” Santos-Griswold said.
“It means a lot, actually,” added Howard, who made his first World Cup appearance at World Cup 2 last season. “I really wanted to show people this year that I can be a competitor at the top level.”
Santos-Griswold won the 500m races in 42.593 and 42.723 seconds, the 1000m races in 1:27.422 and 1:34.011, and the 1500m in 2:14.572 and 2:50.772.
The only other woman to record a top-three finish in an individual race was Eunice Lee, a 2022-23 World Cup Team member who finished third in the second 500m.
Howard won the first Men’s 500m race with a time of 41.249 seconds, the first 1000m with a time of 1:27.058 and the second 1500m with a time of 2:18.126. In addition to his U.S. Title in the 1500m, he ended the weekend second in the 500m and third in the 1000m.
Kim won the U.S. Title at 500m by capturing one of the finals with a time of 40.864 seconds and finishing runner-up to Howard in the other. Kim also finished third in the 1500m standings.
DeClemente won the 1000m National Title with a pair of runner-up finishes, and he won one of the 1500m finals with a time of 2:18.702.
Wesley Park ended the weekend with Silver medals in the 1000m and 1500m, which included a win in one 1000m race in 1:25.029.
Seung-Min Kwon rounded out the men’s medalists, finishing third in the 500m standings.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic 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.