After battling through world cup jitters in yesterday’s qualifying rounds, Team USA displayed resilience and confidence as they tackled day two of the first ISU Short Track World Cup at the Utah Olympic Oval.
The Mixed Relay team, consisting of Olympians Aaron Tran (Federal Way, Wash.), Thomas Hong (Laurel, Md.) and Maame Biney (Reston, Va.), and the 2019 U.S. Short Track Champion Kristen Santos (Fairfield, Conn.), skated into the A Final, facing off against four other teams. Team USA moved into third place before falling back and finishing just off the podium in fourth place, with Russia winning the gold.
Tran and Olympic teammate Ryan Pivirotto (Ann Arbor, Mich.) met up in the 1500m repechage semifinal, skating against each other for first and second place before Tran pulled ahead to win the heat and move into the 1500m quarterfinals. Tran raced with six skaters in his 1500m quarterfinal and led for several laps before falling back and finishing 6th in his heat. He finished his first world cup of the season ranked 18th in the 1500m. Pivirotto is ranked 22nd.
“It's a bittersweet moment when you're in that situation with a teammate but I couldn't be happier with the results,” Pivirotto said, in a social media post.
Corinne Stoddard (Lake Tapps, Wash.) skated her first-ever world cup 1500m semifinal, finishing in 4th place and advancing to the B Final with a new personal best time. In her B final race, Stoddard ended in fourth place, earning an overall 11th place ranking.
"[I learned] I should be more towards the front when the speed starts picking up," Stoddard said.
Biney struggled in her first 500m races when she fell and moved into the repecharge rounds, skating her way back into the 500m quarterfinals. Unfortunately, she fell at the start of her quarterfinal race and did not advance. Biney is currently ranked 20th in the 500m. She’ll race in the 500m (2) rep. quarterfinals tomorrow morning.
Both the U.S. Ladies and Men’s Relay teams finished the semifinal rounds in third place and will skate the B Final during tomorrow’s event.
Mixed Relay – 4th place finish
Corinne Stoddard – 1500m – 11th
Aaron Tran – 1500m – 18th
Maame Biney – 500m (1) – 20th
Ryan Pivirotto – 1500m – 22nd
“The start of the day went well, made it into the quarterfinals which was really good,” Maame Biney said. “Then for my quarters, I fell on the start (again), which sucks because I didn’t even get a chance to race the actual race. Then the mixed relay went well. Could have gone better but we have the whole season to fix our mistakes.”
"We started out slow, the nerves got the better part of the team. Too many unnecessary mistakes," said U.S. National Head Coach Wilma Boomstra. "I'm proud of my relay teams. Slowly we are closing the gap with the best of the world. Corie made B Final, which is incredible. Tran should've made it higher but made a few mistakes. Same for Thomas. Goal is to be better every world cup and to gradually make our way to the top."
"The team is always supportive and I think world cups gives us the chance to bring that out more than usual," said Julie Letai (Medfield, Mass.) "I think our team atmosphere is really a strength of the team."
"This was my first world cup after a year off and my nerves got the best of me in my first race," said Ryan Pivirotto. "I'm excited to skate like I know I can skate. I need to be confident and controlled and make it into the [1000m] semifinal."
"It feels nice just to be out there skating," said Andrew Heo. "I'm definitely improving so I'm excited to race the next world cups because by then I'll be getting better. My strength is not quitting."