Short track skaters back in action at European Championships

Britainís short track podium athletes will be in action for the first time since Novemberís Olympic Winter Games qualifying event in Kolomna this week, as they travel to Dresden, Germany, for the European Championships, 17-19 January.

Shoebridge, Eley and Whelbourne
Image courtesy of Micahel Poole

Nine skaters, including the five announced for Team GB at Sochi by the British Olympic Association in December, will be competing in Dresden, which is a valuable opportunity for those athletes travelling to Sochi at the end of the month to compete ahead of the Games.

ďThe athletes have put in a hard block of training since the last World Cup in November and they are eager to race this week. Itís less than a month until several of those competing at Dresden will represent Team GB in Sochi and their training has obviously been focused on the GamesĒ said Performance Director Stuart Horsepool.

ďBecause of this we expect the squad to be at their physical peak in February, not at the Europeanís this week, so the main aim in Dresden is for them to get race practice to allow them to hone their skills ahead of Sochi, to ensure that they are sharp and race ready come Games time.Ē

Former European Champion Jack Whelbourne, along with Richard Shoebridge, Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin are four of the five skaters selected for Team GB in Sochi and will compete in all the individual distances at the European Championships, which open with the 1500m on Friday, followed by the 500m on Saturday and the 1000m to conclude the event on Sunday.

They will be joined by Jon Eley - who is the fifth skater set to compete in Sochi - and Paul Stanley, and Alex Stanley and Kathryn Thomson in the menís 5000m and womenís 3000m relay events, the heats of which take place on Friday. Joshua Cheetham, 21, will be acting reserve for the menís relay.

Last season Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin both won medals at the European Championships, Christie taking gold in the 1000m and 1500m, and Gilmartin bronze also in the 1500m. Christie admits that while reaching the podium again this year is important to her, it is not her only goal at event:

ďEverything weíve been doing has been geared towards the Olympics and although Iíd like to medal in Dresden, Iím more focussed on putting in some good tactical races and preparing myself for next month, because the Games are my main goal.Ē said Christie.

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