Squad compete at first World Cup in Shanghai

Nine members of GB Short Track begin their ISU World Cup campaign this week with the opening event in Shanghai, 26-29 September. The four day event consists of qualifying rounds for each event on days one and two, followed by World Cup sessions on days three and four (28-29 September).

Performance Director Stuart Horsepool said: “We have selected an additional two skaters to compete at the World Cups this season, giving us a squad of nine. This was done with the aim to qualify both a men’s and women’s relay for Sochi.

“The athletes will also compete in individual events over 500, 1000 and 1500-metres. Each country is allowed to enter up to three skaters to compete in each distance, so distances have to be shared between athletes when we have a large squad like this.”

Stanley and Shoebridge training in Nottingham
Image coutesy of David Tyrrell

Paul Stanley, Jon Eley, Richard Shoebridge, and Jack Whelbourne will compete in individual events as well as the men’s 5000-metre relay, with Joshua Cheetham as the acting reserve for the relay. The women’s 3000-metre relay comprises of Elise Christie, Charlotte Gilmartin, Alex Stanley and Kathryn Thomson, who will all also be competing in individual events.

Paul Stanley, Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin will be the only members of the squad to compete in all three distances, as well as their respective relay events. Elise Christie, who won a silver medal in the 1000-metres at the opening World Cup last season, said:

“This is our first time racing on the world circuit this season, so obviously there are a few nerves, but everyone’s really excited to race now. I was really pleased how I did in the World Cups last season, but with the Olympics and the qualifiers for that coming up, the experience and race practice here is pretty much as important as the result.”

Elise Christie in training in Nottingham
Image coutesy of David Tyrrell

The squad competed at their first international at the Holland Invitation Cup at the end of August, where both Elise Christie and 22-year-old Jack Whelbourne from Nottingham won overall gold. Whelbourne said:

“I’m feeling quietly confident going into this season. I’ve been skating some good times in training and winning the overall title in Holland was a nice start, but that was only against the Europeans. Shanghai is going to be tough and you never know how things are going to go, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and racing.”

During an Olympic year, the ISU World Cup is held over four events instead six. This year, the series begins with two stages in Asia, followed by the two stages in Europe which act as the Olympic qualifying events. Performance Director Stuart Horsepool said:

“This is our first competition against the big skating nations, like China, South Korea and Canada since last season. There’s going to be fierce competition and it’s going be interesting to see how some nations are choosing to skate tactically, particularly in the relays.

“There will be a lot of tactics involved so one of the key things for our athletes to take from this event is to learn as much about how others are skating this year. Elise for example could be a target for some nations seeing as she was ranked world number one in the 1000-metres last season, and her characteristic style of skating, leading from the front of the pack, has become a trademark.

“It has been important for all the athletes, as well as Elise, to work on different styles of racing and it’s something we have been looking at since the World Championships in March. Training for the World Cups has gone well and we are pleased with their preparations, but racing in short track is inherently unpredictable and nothing is certain until they are over the finish line.”

Next week the squad travel to Seoul for stage two of the ISU World Cup, taking place on the 3-6th October.

Keep up with the live results at shorttrack.sportresult.com  or watch the event live on the ISU Skating Channel here, livemanager.eurovision.edgesuite.net/isu/site/index.html.