ATHLETES from the Great British Short Track speed skating squad have been preparing for the 2015 European Championships which are taking place in Dordrecht, Holland, between January 23-25.
Competing individually over the weekend will be Britain’s best senior female speed skaters Elise Christie and Redditch’s Charlotte Gilmartin, alongside two of the squad’s top senior male skaters Jack Whelbourne and Paul Stanley.
The successful men’s relay team will also be competing this weekend and the squad includes Whelbourne, Stanley, Jon Eley, Richard Shoebridge and Billy Simms.
The International Skating Union European Short Track Championships is an annual event which is a warm-up competition ahead of the ISU World Short Track Championships taking place in Moscow between March 13-15.
Stuart Horsepool, Performance Director of the GB Short Track squad, said: “The European Short Track Championships is a really important event. Over the years the standard of skaters competing has grown hugely and each year it gets more and more challenging for the team.
“The skaters have been training hard over the past couple of weeks and it will be good to get them out competing at a championships level again.
“What I want to see from the skaters is them practising their racing craft in a competitive environment so that when it comes to the World Championships they are ready to go hard and hopefully reach the podium.”
Gilmartin, fresh from a trio of silver medals at both the British Short Track Speed Skating Championships and the ISU Star Class Cup in Nottingham, won a bronze medal in the 1,500m at the 2013 European Championships in Sweden and also claimed relay gold in the 2008 Europeans.
Usually the three-day competition format consists of the three distances (1,500m, 1,000m, 500m) being separated by day, however this year the races have been mixed up so the qualifying races take place on the Friday and the 1,500m and 500m quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals take place on the Saturday.
On the Sunday the 1,000m final races (quarters, semis and finals) will take place along with the 5,000m relay final and the 3,000m super final.
Horsepool commented on the change: “The new format this year will be quite challenging for the skaters because they will have to race quite tactically to reserve energy, however with the World Championships being in the same format we can learn from this weekend so that the skaters will be in top form for the competition in March.”
Last year Christie left the European Championships as the reigning 1,000m ladies’ European champion and she is hoping to hold on to that title.
To keep up with the action over the weekend visit shorttrack.sportresult.com.