Kristen Santos competes during the ISU World Short Track Championships on March 6, 2021 in Dordrecht, Netherlands.
Kristen Santos said before the opening races of the short track speed skating world cup season in Beijing this weekend that she wanted to skate smarter in the months leading up to the Olympics.
The 26-year-old from Fairfield, Connecticut, certainly seems to have combined smarts and skills with a pair of third-place finishes. On Saturday, she was third in the women’s 1,500-meter final, her time of 2 minutes, 22.176 seconds just barely behind second-place finisher Courtney Sarault of Canada with a time of 2:22.167. Korea’s Yubin Lee won in 2:21.833. It was an even closer race in the women’s 1,000-meter final on Sunday. Winner Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands finished in 1:28.275 followed by Korea’s Jiyoo Kim in 1:28.351 and Santos in 1:28.433.
Santos was the only U.S. skater to qualify for “A” finals throughout the weekend.
She just missed out on making the Olympic team back in 2018, suffering an injury in a world cup race a month before trials and finishing fourth in the deciding event. Santos is now focused on peaking closer to the 2022 Olympic Team Trials in January.
She told TeamUSA.org just before the team departed for Beijing and the start of world cup season that, with the help of short track national team coach Stephen Gough, and high-performance director Andréa Do-Duc, she’s working on sticking to her race plan and worrying less about what other skaters are doing.
“I’ve definitely learned how to calm myself down going into a race, how to focus on myself and give myself positive talk, things like that,” she said. “One thing that has helped is keeping a training log, a notebook where I write down everything I do in practices. … It’s a physical representation of how hard I’ve worked and how far I’ve come, a reminder of what I am capable of.”
This weekend was a test event for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing, as well as the first of several qualifiers that will determine how many skaters the U.S. can send in February. Santos leads a team of 10 Americans who qualified for the world cup team this year. They will travel next to Nagoya, Japan, for events next weekend followed by stops in Hungary and the Netherlands in November.