Maame Biney poses at a Team USA Beijing 2022 Olympic shoot on Sept. 12, 2021 in Irvine, Calif.
The top American short track speedskaters will be on display Friday through Sunday at the Utah Olympic Oval just south of Salt Lake City, where five women and two men will earn their berths to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
If you’re tuning in expecting to see Apolo Anton Ohno in all his glory — congratulations, you’re officially old.
The most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian retired after the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010, but the current generation brings plenty of new reasons to tune in.
In a switch from recent quads, it’s the U.S. women leading the charge into the Winter Games, thanks in large part to veterans Kristen Santos and Maame Biney. The men, meanwhile, are in a period of transition after three-time Olympic medalist J.R. Celski hung up his skates and 2018 medalist John-Henry Krueger began competing for Hungary.
As a result, the women have qualified a relay team for the first time since 2010, while the men failed to qualify in the relay for the first time since 1992. However, the men will still have an opportunity to race in a relay in Beijing thanks to the new mixed relay event that features two men and two women.
In Utah, 15 women and 16 men will each race twice at the three individual distances — 500 meters, 1,000 meters and 1,500 meters.
For the women, the combined winner at each distance will earn an Olympic berth, and if someone wins two distances then the second-place finishers will be considered. The remaining spots will be awarded based on overall rankings, though one could go to a relay specialist.
On the men’s side, winners from each distance will be considered.
Though some skaters come into the weekend with more momentum, in the unpredictable world of short track nothing is ever guaranteed.
Here’s a look at three storylines to keep an eye on.