Skaters compete for Sochi spaces at World Cups

Britain’s short track speed skaters will be competing for Olympic Winter Games quota places at the ISU World Cup in Turin this week, 7-11 November. Turin will be the first of two qualifying events, with the second taking place in Kolomna (Russia) the following week on the 14-17 November.

GB 5000m relay team

Nine members of the squad will travel to the events where they will face over 130 men and 110 women all vying for the 32 individual distance quota places and eight relay places available at the Games in February. The final squad selection for Sochi will be announced by the BOA in December.

Performance Director Stuart Horsepool says the squad is aiming to qualify three individual male and three individual female quota spaces, as well as both the men’s and women’s relay, but admits the sport does not lend itself to guarantees:

“The coaching staff and I are very pleased with how preparations have gone in the run up to the qualifying events this month. The athletes are currently making their final preparations in Turin and they are looking forward to competing.

“Even though we are confident in the squad’s ability to be able to secure the quota places, short track is a sport where anything can happen and there are some factors that are out of the skaters’ control, as we’ve seen at the last two World Cups, so it will be a tense week for everyone.”

So far this season the squad has reached the World Cup podium with a bronze medal in the men’s 5000m relay in Seoul, as well as a number of individual skaters reaching semi-finals and finals which places them in the top sixteen in the world.

Men's relay medal ceremony in Seoul

This bodes well for the squad ahead of Turin and Kolomna as individual athletes must finish ranked in the top 32 in any one distance over World Cup 3 and 4 to earn enough points to secure a quota place for the Games.

To qualify a relay place, Britain must be placed in the top eight after the two World Cup events, however if Russia are not in the top eight after the two events, the Olympic host nation will take the place of the nation ranked in eighth place.

Britain will go into the World Cups with the hope to qualify a men’s and women’s relay for Sochi, which would make for a nine-strong Olympic squad at Sochi. Horsepool added: “The men’s team are confident after winning bronze in Seoul, but they are experienced and know not be complacent, particularly after their unexpected fall in Shanghai in September.

“The women are still a young team and they finished in ninth after the first two World Cups. It will be difficult for them because they are young team and they’ve only been skating together for a year, whereas some nations have been together since the last Olympics. However they are constantly improving and they broke the British record in Seoul, so it is realistic that they could qualify.”

The World Cup squad consists of Paul Stanley, Jon Eley, Richard Shoebridge, Jack Whelbourne, and Josh Cheetham on the men’s squad, and Elise Christie, Charlotte Gilmartin, Alex Stanley and Kat Thomson on the women’s.

For further details on qualification, visit www.gbshorttrack.org/index.php?p=1_40_Sochi-2014.

Live streaming on the ISU Skating Channel commences on Friday 8 November at 18:00, here livemanager.eurovision.edgesuite.net/isu/site/index.html.

Alternatively, keep up with the live results here shorttrack.sportresult.com/.

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