Team USA Ends Final Day In Beijing With Second Medal And A New American Relay Record
by Rebecca Reza
The final day of racing wrapped in Beijing at Capital Indoor Stadium for the first ISU World Cup event of the 2021/2022 short track season. The first of four Olympic qualifying events was a successful start for Team USA, coming away with two medals and a new American Relay Record.
The women’s 3000m relay team of Maame Biney, Julie Letai, Corinne Stoddard, and Kristen Santos shattered an American record by almost 3 seconds en route to a B final win with a new time of (4.05,302). Santos racing anchor, came from behind in the final corner to steal victory from Canada on the line. It would prove to be a fast weekend for the relay events with two World Records set in the 3000m semi finals by the Dutch women (4.02,809) and in the 2000m mixed relay by Korea (2.35,951) only a day after China had set their own World Record (2.37,747) in the distance.
The stellar performance was followed again by Santos (Fairfield, Conn.) who earned her second Bronze Medal of the World Cup, this time in the 1000m with a time of (1.28,433). Olympic Gold Medalist and Current World Champion in the distance, Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands won the final with a time of (1.28,275), ahead of Korea’s Jiyoo Kim finishing second. Santos now sits in third in the World Cup standings in both the 1500m and 1000m with 6400 points each for her efforts.
“This weekend of racing has made me really excited for the rest of this season,” Kristen Santos said after racing had concluded. “I’m focusing on staying patient and skating clean to qualify as many spots as possible for the games and it’s working.”
“As far as the relay goes, I’m really happy that we were able to get 5th, I think we are in a great position to qualify for the games. The team is working really well together and they put me in a great position to have as much energy as possible at the end of the race. Going into the last exchange I didn’t have anyone around me so I could just focus on skating a speed track to catch. Seeing the gap closing is really motivating; I always tend to skate my best when chasing someone down.”
Ryan Pivirotto (Ann Arbor, Mich.) raced the 1000m quarterfinals. After a strong start and battling with Canada’s Pascal Dion, Pivirotto would miss qualifying for the semi-finals in a fast heat won by Hungary’s Shaolin Sandor Liu.
Team USA would miss qualifying for the semi-finals in both the 5000m and 2000m mixed relays. The weekend in Beijing was held in the same venue for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games, an important opportunity to preview the ice before the team returns in four months time. Both the men and women raced strong, heading to Japan for World Cup #2 with confidence, earning important World Cup ranking points as the Olympic season continues to build.
“I’m pleased with how our performance went in Beijing at World Cup 1,” Andrea Do-Duc said, the Short Track Program Director. “It was a great start to the Olympic season. Kristen showed confidence and had solid showings in both the 1000 and 1500m distances. We are definitely in the mix in the women’s relay, which made tremendous progress over the summer. They shattered the previous American record, which stood since 2016 by over 3 seconds this past weekend."
“We still have a lot of work to do to secure our Olympic spots, and we’re looking forward to carrying the momentum we’ve gained into the next World Cups.”