Short Track Season Gets Underway With The Desert Classic In Utah

by Chrös McDougall

Summer is still in full swing. The wait for the short track season is already over.

Nearly 120 skaters from around the U.S. and Canada converged on the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah, over the weekend for the Short Track Desert Classic, the first US Speedskating short track competition of the 2022-23 season.

Open to skaters ranging from 7 years old to 70+, the Desert Classic used a no-elimination format that provided greater opportunities to race. The competition also followed US Speedskating camps for Junior DEVO and Next GEN athletes that were also held in Kearns.

In total, 117 participants laced up for the Desert Classic, including members of the U.S. National Training Program, clubs from across the country and skaters from the Calgary Olympic Oval Short Tack Program in Canada.

Two long days of racing included competition over multiple divisions, including a Women’s and Men’s Relay to close out Saturday night.

While the competition featured a range of skating abilities, the Desert Classic is also a key tune-up for high-level skaters seeking to compete for Team USA on the ISU World Cup circuit later this winter. The top four finishers in the overall classification of the Open A Women’s competition at the 2021 Desert Classic — Corinne Stoddard, Kristen Santos, Julie Letai and Eunice Lee — all went on to make the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team. Ryan Pivirotto, another 2022 Olympian, was second last year in the Open A Men division during last seasons event.

For all skaters, the Short Track Desert Classic also provides a key opportunity to get ice time on the famous Utah Olympic Oval, which is again set to host several major competitions this season.

The US Speedskating Short Track Fall World Cup Team Qualifier is set for Sept. 23-25 in Kearns. The full World Cup circuit then shows up Nov. 4-6 for the second of six stops in 2022-23. One week later, on Nov. 11-13, the Utah Olympic Oval hosts another international field when the ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships come to town.

The ISU World Cup season begins on Oct.28-30 in Montreal.

Chrös McDougall covers the Olympic and Paralympic Movement on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.