After making it through Friday’s qualifying rounds, U.S. short track skaters took the ice at the Utah Olympic Oval to compete for National Titles in the 500m and 1500m at the U.S. Short Track Championships.
Two exciting and physical 1500m races ended with Olympians Maame Biney and Ryan Pivirotto on top of the podium, winning world team spots and national titles. Biney took the lead in her 1500m event with two laps to go and held it for the win. Pivirotto made a last-minute, come-from-behind move to edge out Olympic teammate Thomas Hong for the first-place spot.
“I’m very surprised for sure,” Biney said. “I was not expecting the 1500 to go the way it did. I’m happy with my 500 and happy with my 1500, so tomorrow I’m just going to chill. I’ve already made the [world championship] team and that’s what the goal was.”
Corinne Stoddard was penalized in her 1500m A Final race, which knocked her out of contention for the world team. “I’m really disappointed. The crash took me out of the running to qualify for world championships and overall junior winner. In the 500m after my crash I did the best I could with how I felt and I got third. I hope tomorrow is a better day.”
Ladies 1500m Junior
Men’s 1500m Junior
The Ladies 500m A Final featured four of the fastest females in the world. Biney, Kristen Santos, Hailey Choi and Stoddard faced off as Biney jumped into an early lead and held off the pack, taking the win and national title. In the Men’s 500m A Final, Hong edged out Brandon Kim and Olympian Aaron Tran for the national title
“I had lane two at the start of the 500, so I tried my best to have a fast start and put myself in a position to make a pass,” Hong said. “I stayed patient, which is something I haven’t done well this season, and made a pass that allowed me to finish strong in the race.”
Ladies 500m Junior
Men’s 500m Junior
Racing concludes tomorrow with the Ladies and Men’s 1000m and the Relay Finals.
“It feels good that all the work I put in through summer and the season paid off the way it has,” Pivirotto said.
“I love the way they were racing. There was no one sitting back and waiting, and everyone was fighting,” said National Short Track Head Coach Wilma Boomstra
“In the 1000m, the [world cup] points are not set yet and anything can happen. I’m just looking forward to good racing. If I can see the way they were all racing those 1500s, especially the guys, then I’ll be really happy. I want that,” Boomstra said.
“It’s going pretty good for me. Going into the 1500, I tried not to be nervous because that’s how I skated well at the world cup. [Coach] Wil told me going into it that I could win it and looking back at the race, I feel I could have won it. I got bumped out pretty far back and had to catch up,” said Andrew Heo.
“I’m definitely not feeling 100 percent right now, trying to fight off some sickness, so this is definitely not my weekend. Maame is skating phenomenal and I think it’s her time to shine right now. I’m going to take the rest of the day today to myself to try and kick this thing. I’m sitting in a good position so tomorrow I’m going to focus on skating smart and relaxed and hopefully do what I know I can,” said Kristen Santos
“Tomorrow, my goal is to stay consistent, make it to the [1000m] A Final and try my best from there,” said Thomas Hong