Christie and Shoebridge lead the way in Shanghai
Four British skaters progress through the qualification stages on the first two days of competition at the ISU World Cup in Shanghai, with Elise Christie and Richard Shoebridge leading the way for the Brits by qualifying for the quarter-finals in all of their individual events.
Christie will now go on to race in the 1500m and 500m tomorrow, and finish World Cup I with her speciality, the 1000m on Sunday (29 September). Shoebridge, who was entered into two individual events, will compete in the 500m and 1000m on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Other British skaters to progress through the qualification rounds of the 1500m were Jack Whelbourne (22) from Nottingham and Charlotte Gilmartin (23) from Redditch, who won a bronze in that distance at the European Championships in January.
So far, Christie has finished first in every race in the competition and is just one of two females competing over three individual distances, the other being Valérie Maltais of Canada. Christie said:
“I felt quite nervous coming at the beginning of the week because I did feel the pressure to perform here being the first World Cup in the Olympic year. It’s nice to get out and race through, and I am relieved to make it through to the top sixteen in all three distances, especially when this sport is so unpredictable!”
Performance Director of GB Short Track Stuart Horsepool said: “Elise has coped very well so far. She was always going to feel pressure coming here, and she has dealt with it and managed to remain focused.
“She is going to have a difficult job over the next couple of days because she is racing a lot more than the other women so fatigue could be an issue, but for Elise it is all good experience, and if this was the Olympic qualifiers, she would have already got enough points to secure a qualification spot for the Games.”
28-year-old Richard Shoebridge, whose home club is the Solihull Mowhawks, said: “We all came here wanting to get out and perform well, so I’m happy that I’ve been able to make it through to the quarter-finals in my events and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”
In the men’s relay team, Shoebridge along with Jon Eley, Paul Stanley and Jack Whelbourne were unable to progress through to the quarter-finals of the 5000m relay after they fell in the closing stages of the heat. They finished outside the top two in third, behind Italy and the Netherlands.
Horsepool said: “The men were in a qualifying position behind the Netherlands and together with the Dutch, they were skating away with from the rest of the pack with fifteen laps to go. But unfortunately Richard fell because the ice broke away beneath his blade.
“It’s disappointing and frustrating for the team, but it does demonstrate how unpredictable short track is. They did nothing wrong in the race and they were in a good position, it was just a factor that was out of their control.”
“A few individuals had hoped for a better start to their World Cup campaign. Jon (Eley) and Paul (Stanley) didn’t make the top sixteen in their events. We know they are capable of better because we have seen the speeds they are capable of in training, and others on the programme are performing, so it is frustrating for them.”
Talent ID Coach Paul Worth, who competed at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, said: “Quite often in Olympic years you see skaters go into the first World Cup with such a strong desire to do well, that they don’t skate to their potential.
“It’s good for them that they have this competition before the Olympic qualifiers because it gives them an extra competition to get over any competition nerves, and also some time to review things before Turin and Kolomna.”
The young women’s quartet of Elise Christie, Charlotte Gilmartin, Alex Stanley from Nottingham and seventeen-year-old Kat Thomson from Kilmarnock were also eliminated in the heats of the 3000m relay, missing out to dominant skating nation South Korea, and Italy.
Live streaming of the final two days of World Cup commences tomorrow at 11am (GMT), with finals commencing at midday on the ISU Skating Channel: livemanager.eurovision.edgesuite.net/isu/site/index.html.
Live results can be found at shorttrack.sportresult.com.