Kristen Santos celebrates qualifying for the Olympics at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Short Track Speedskating on Dec. 18, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
SALT LAKE CITY – Kristen Santos became the first U.S. speedskater to qualify for the Olympic team on Saturday at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Short Track Speedskating in Salt Lake City.
Santos won the women’s 1,500-meter A final in 2:27:42, followed by Corinne Stoddard in second and Julie Letai in third. She took control of the pace at the 1,000-meter mark and dominated to the finish line to secure her spot at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
“It’s surreal,” Santos said. “I feel like I can’t stop crying every time I talk about it, but I’m so overwhelmed. I’m so happy. I’m really glad my family was all here to experience it with me.”
Santos said it means so much to be able to celebrate this milestone with her family, who made up a large cheering section with red ‘Team Santos’ shirts at the Olympic Oval throughout the weekend.
“I could not have done it without them,” Santos said. “It’s like they qualified with me.”
Her journey to her first Olympics has not been easy. Santos narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. She sustained an injury in a world cup race a few weeks before the 2018 Trials, which disrupted her training.
Santos’s journey in this quad however has been a very different story. She came into the 2022 Olympic Trials as the top U.S. woman in short track speedskating and the American record holder in the 1,000 and 1,500 meters. Building off her success in the world cup circuit, she swept the first round of Trials finals on Friday.
On Saturday, Santos suffered a setback after a fall during the 1,000-meter final and had to refocus for the 1,500-meter finals, her first opportunity to qualify for the Games, shortly after.
“I fell in the 1,000, which is my favorite race, so it was really hard to get over that,” Santos said. “But I really had to put that behind me and put everything I had into the 1,500.”
With her spot on the Olympic team secured, Santos said she’ll shift her focus for the last day of Trials.
“Tomorrow’s going to be a little more exciting because the pressure is off now,” Santos said. “It’s going to give me an opportunity to race to learn things rather than racing to win, and I think that’s going to set me up a lot better for the Games. Also, its going to be really exciting to watch my teammates qualify.”
Santos said she’s gotten really close with U.S. teammates Maame Biney, Corinne Stoddard and Julie Letai as they been training together and the main women’s relay team on the world cup circuit.
They’ll look to continue their world cup success as the first U.S. women’s short track relay team to qualify for the Olympics since 2010. Regardless of Sunday’s Olympic qualifying results, the relay team will stand together as a bridal party in Santos’s August wedding.