U.S. Short Track Capture Mixed Relay Gold On Home Ice In Four Continents Championships
by Paul D. Bowker
Andrew Heo clapped his hands triumphantly just before he glided across the finish line on home ice Saturday to clinch a Gold medal at the ISU Four Continents Championships.
"[It was] pretty insane crossing that finish line knowing that we just won Gold and doing that on home ice made it that much better," commented Heo, "Having the home crowd cheering us on and also my family and friends being there as well, definitely a feeling that I’ll never forget... super proud of myself for bringing it home and of our team as well."
Once the U.S. Olympian crossed the finish line ahead of China’s skater in the Mixed 2000m Relay, Heo raised his arms and began a memorable celebration with relay teammates Kristen Santos-Griswold, Marcus Howard and Corinne Stoddard.
Santos-Griswold, a 2022 Olympics teammate of Heo and Stoddard, had taken the lead with just five laps to go as the spectators at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns cheered them on.
“After I saw Kristen pass the Chinese skater, part of me was like, ‘OK, big responsibility to bring it home,’” Heo said after the race.
It was the first international championship medal in the Mixed Relay for any of the U.S. skaters, although Heo won a Bronze medal in the Men’s 5000m Relay in the Four Continents Championships three years ago. Heo also combined with Santos-Griswold, Stoddard and Brandon Kim on the same ice just a week ago for a World Cup Bronze medal in the Mixed Relay.
Saturday, it was Howard’s turn to reach the podium, competing alongside three Olympians.
“It was pretty scary,” Howard said. “I am not used to this level of competition, but it was really exciting. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
The U.S. also won a Bronze medal in the Women’s 3000m Relay as Americans stacked up five total medals over the three days of the Four Continents Championships.
Santos-Griswold, who is off to a blazing start this year with four Bronze medals in her first two World Cups, added a pair of Silver medals in two individual events Friday. She finished runner-up to two-time Olympic Champion Shim Suk-hee of South Korea by just 0.029 seconds in the Women’s 500m Final and was second to Canada’s Courtney Sarault by 0.094 seconds in the 1500m Final.
On Saturday, Santos-Griswold added a Bronze medal in the Women’s 3000m Relay, teaming up with Eunice Lee, Julie Letai, Kamryn Lute and Stoddard for a third-place finish behind South Korea and Canada. In two weeks of racing at the Utah Olympic Oval, Santos-Griswold won seven medals.
Heo won his first Four Continents individual medal, capturing a Silver medal in the Men’s 500m with a time of 40.687 seconds. Canada’s Steven Dubois topped Heo by 0.371 seconds. Heo also made the final in the 1500m and finished sixth as all seven skaters were within one second of each other.
In the 1000m, Heo finished second in the quarterfinals and third in the semifinals. He set a new American Record in the semifinal.
Stoddard made the final in the Women’s 500m and finished fifth. She also had a fourth-place finish in the 1000m semifinals.
Clayton DeClemente, Howard, Seung-Min Kwon and Wesley Park combined to make the B Final in the Men’s 5000M Relay, and finished second behind Kazakhstan.
The Four Continents Championships finished up two weeks of global short track racing at the Utah Olympic Oval. Next up is the third stop of the World Cup, Dec. 9-11, at Almaty, Kazakhstan.