NewsKristen Santos-Griswold

Santos-Griswold Leads Historic U.S. Success at Short Track World Championships

by Paul D. Bowker

Kristen Santos-Griswold, who nearly retired after the Olympic Winter Games two years ago, blasted her way into American history this past weekend by winning five medals, including her first World Title, at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Santos-Griswold won the Women’s 1000m on Sunday after scoring a Silver Medal in the 1500m and a Bronze Medal in the 500m during Saturday’s races. Olympic teammate Corinne Stoddard took third in the 1500m and joined Santos-Griswold and teammates Eunice Lee, Julie Letai, Andrew Heo and Marcus Howard on a pair of medal-winning relay teams: Silver in the Women’s 3000m Relay and Bronze in the Mixed Team Relay.


With six medals, the U.S. led all nations at the World Championships and broke a medal-less streak that dated back to 2014.


Santos-Griswold is also the first American short tracker to win medals at all three individual distances at one World Championships since the sport became an Olympic sport in 1992.


“I feel really, really good,” Santos-Griswold said. “It’s surreal. I got the rainbow this weekend, so I am excited.”


The medal haul in Rotterdam concluded a magnificent season in which Santos-Griswold won 11 individual World Cup medals and seven relay medals, plus three Gold Medals at the Four Continents Championships. She finished second in the World Cup Women’s Overall standings.


The greatest drama came in the final individual women’s event. In the 1000m on Sunday, Santos-Griswold was one of three skaters who crashed into the wall behind leader Hanne Desmet of Belgium. When Desmet was disqualified by penalty, the race was run again. Santos-Griswold held off Crystal Globe winner Kim Gilli of South Korea for the win in 1:42.717.


“Going into this race today, I felt a lot more calm than I typically do,” said Santos-Griswold, the World Cup 1000m champion. “Today I had one thing in mind and that was Gold. To come out on top was special.”


The crash not only took Desmet out of the second and deciding race, but also Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands, who was hurt in the first race’s crash but still tried to compete on a broken ankle in the second final.


“I thought I’d stay at the front, stay safe and I was confident I’d have the legs,” said Santos-Griswold, who led the restart from start to finish. “It was almost all the same people from the Beijing 2022 (Olympics) final, just Gilli instead of Choi (Min-jeong, the Olympic Silver medalist). So it feels like redemption.”


Santos-Griswold finished fourth in that 1000m Olympics final in Beijing, which Schulting won.


“I almost quit two seasons ago,” she said. “The mental aspect was tough, so I’m very glad I didn’t.”


Santos-Griswold is the first American to win a title in Short Track since 2011, when Katherine Reutter-Adamek won the Women’s 1500m and Simon Cho won the Men’s 500m.


Another penalty in the 1500m Saturday involving Desmet moved Santos-Griswold and Stoddard from third- and fourth-place finishes to second and third behind Kim. They finished with times of 2:21.413 and 2:22.244, respectively. Santos-Griswold had led for portions of the race, but then was squeezed late in the race on a pass by Desmet and Kim.


“I’m glad I was able to come out on the podium,” Santos-Griswold said, “but I was really disappointed with being out front on the last lap and then getting taken out.”


Added Stoddard: “It was a hard race, and I was constantly fighting for position. It was constant pushing and shoving, so I’m happy to get a medal. I’m happy with my progress and I can’t wait to keep improving. I really put a focus on skating this year because I put school on hold and that paid off.”


“This feels like the biggest stage I’ve ever been on,” added Stoddard, who won a career-high six individual medals and seven relay medals during the World Cup season.


Santos-Griswold also won a Bronze Medal in the 500m Saturday, finishing third behind Canada’s Kim Boutin and Netherlands’ Xandra Velzeboer with a time of 42.929 seconds.


In the relays, Santos-Griswold and Stoddard teamed up with Eunice Lee and Julie Letai for a Silver Medal in the women’s event with a time of 4:08.061, and they combined with Andrew Heo and Marcus Howard for a Bronze Medal in the Mixed Relay with a time of 2:39.369.


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.

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