The third Olympic qualifying event of the 2021-2022 World Cup season in Debrecen, Hunga..." /> The third Olympic qualifying event of the 2021-2022 World Cup season in Debrecen, Hunga..." />

Team USA Continue To Build Towards Olympics in Beijing

by Rebecca Reza

The third Olympic qualifying event of the 2021-2022 World Cup season in Debrecen, Hungary came to a close Sunday November 21st, 2021 with Team USA gaining important points towards qualifying for the Beijing Olympic events. The women reached four finals with Kristen Santos (Fairfield, Conn.) racing the B Final in the 1000m and A Final in the 1500m. Corinne Stoddard (Tacoma, Wash.) continues to make strides, reaching the B finals in the 1500m for the first time this season. The 3000m Relay Team featuring Santos, Stoddard, Julie Letai (Medfield, Mass.), and Maame Biney (Reston, Va.) missed winning the B Final by a 100th of a second in a thrilling photo finish with Russia. 

The Mixed Relay Team consisting of
Andrew Heo (Warrington, Pa.), Brandon Kim (Fairfax, Va.), Stoddard, and Santos made it to the Semi-Finals for the first time this season.  After an attempt to pass in the final lap, the team was assessed a penalty and missed making the Finals. The team now looks ahead to improve at the next World Cup in the Netherlands. The Mixed Relay event is set to make its debut in the Olympics in Beijing.  In the Men’s 5000m Relay race, Team USA slipped to 12th place in the World Cup ranking with two opportunities remaining to improve their chances in qualifying for Beijing. 

In the 1500m, both Brandon Kim and Andrew Heo reached the Semi-Finals for the first time for each skater this season. Heo finished with a time of (2:19.967) in a fast heat that was won by Sven Roes of the Netherlands (2:18.897). Kim finished in a time of (2:23.094) behind Stijn Desmet of Belgium (2:22.404).

In the 1000m, Santos continues to hold on to her second place in the World Cup standings with 19,677 points behind Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands (28000). Schulting won Gold in a friendly rival this season following Santos Gold in Negoya. Santos won the B Final, after racing against Schulting through many of the qualifying heats. Schulting ended up sweeping the individual Gold Medal races in Debrecen, winning Gold in both the 1500m and 500m as well. 

Stoddard was the highest finisher for Team USA in the 500m for the women, after Santos crashed out of the same quarterfinal heat. Stoddard went on to race the Semi-Finals with a time of (43.345), placing her 8th overall for the Women’s 500m but missed qualifying for the finals.
Ryan Pivirotto (Ann Arbor, Mich.) was the only teammate to reach the Quarterfinals after both Heo (41.274) and Kim (41.154) finished 4th in their Qualifying Heats. Pivirotto was penalized following two false starts and did not make the Semi-Finals. Later in the afternoon, the Liu brothers - Shaolin Sandor (40.955), and Shaoang (40.965) - beat the Chinese team in a dramatic A Final to win Gold and Silver in front of a roaring home crowd. 

The circuit now heads to Dordrecht in the Netherlands for the final competition before the holiday break. Team USA will look to add more winning medals to their collection before 2021 officially wraps before 2022. Schulting is expected to continue her winning form at home, with Santos hoping to pull an upset. Two World Cups remain to decide who will qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. 

To view the full results from the weekend, click