Kristen Santos competes in the Women's 1000m Heats on day two of 2021/2022 ISU World Cup Short Track test event on Oct. 22, 2021 in Beijing, China.
Heading into the 2021-22 short track world cup season, Kristen Santos had just one individual medal to her name. She scored two more in the season opener last weekend in Beijing, and Sunday nabbed her first gold medal in the women’s 1,000-meter in Nagoya, Japan.
That’s a pretty good start with the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 just around the corner.
Santos finished the 1,000 in 1:30.013, 64 thousandths of a second ahead of Suzanne Schulting of Netherlands. Dutch teammate Xandra Velzeboer was another .012 back. One of Santos’ bronze medals in Beijing came in the 1,000 with the other in the 1,500. She now ranks second in both distances.
The 26-year-old from Fairfield, Connecticut, is skating her best this year as she chases her first Olympic berth. Bad timing kept her out of the Games four years ago as a month before the U.S. Olympic Team Trials a world cup competitor’s skate blade ran over her hand. She had surgery and returned in time to compete, but not at her best. Nonetheless she still nearly made it, finishing fourth when she needed to finish third.
Santos nearly had her first world championship medal this year, finishing fourth in the 500, seventh in the 3,000 relay and eighth overall. With her great start to the world cup season, she’s setting herself up to be in fine shape to not only win quotas for Team USA but also qualify herself for Beijing. She told TeamUSA.org before the season began that the goal was to be at her best later in the year.
“These first four world cups, I’m really focused on skating well, but skating safe and qualifying spots,” she said. “I definitely want to put my best foot forward with each competition, but I am focusing on the second half of the season, with the Olympic trials and then, hopefully, the Olympics. I definitely want to be at my peak for that.”