Thursday, November 12, 2015

Short Track Speed Skating in Toronto

For the first time, Toronto was host to a World Cup Speed Skating event at the Mastercard Centre in Etobicoke. I attended the Friday heats session and the Saturday session with the 500m/1500m finals as well as the semi-finals of the relays. I had a ticket for Sunday as well, but my daughter was in a soccer tournament with two games on Sunday so I chose to see her team win the tournament rather than seeing Canada's best short track speed skaters.

The highlights of the World Cup for me included seeing Vancouver 2010 medallists and sweethearts Marianne St-Gelais and Charles Hamelin.

Marianne wins the bronze medal in the 1500m
Photo credit: Phil Sewell

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

Another highlight was seeing the excitement of winning a World Cup medal at home.

Samuel Girard is thrilled to win his first World Cup gold medal.
Sasha Fathoullin is happy to join him on the podium with the silver in the 500m
Photo credit: Phil Sewell

François Hamelin celebrates a bronze medal in the 1500m
Photo credit: Phil Sewell
It was great to see the athletes receiving their medals (no national anthems though).

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

Another highlight for me was seeing the relays in person. It is even more chaotic than it seems on television. When watching it in person, you really get to see all the athletes - not only the ones that the cameras are focused on. You also get to see how hard the volunteers work to get the black markers back in their places when they are knocked off their spots while trying to avoid the racers. If I thought it was a tough job during single racing, it was four times more difficult with four times the athletes on the track at one time.

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

Photo credit: Phil Sewell

The event was almost sold out on Saturday and Sunday when the athletes would be racing for medals. It was not on Friday for the heats, but there was a school who brought a large group of students in matching World Cup toques to see this sport in person. That's a field trip I would have loved as a child. They had hand made signs and enjoyed cheering the athletes. It definitely added some excitement to the heats day.

Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell
Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell

We were reminded that short track speed skating is a dangerous sport when Kim Hanwool of Korea fell and got seriously injured as he slid into the boards with Great Britain's Paul Stanley.


Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell
Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell

Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell
Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell


With space in the stands, I took the chance to see the racing from another view point near the finish line which doubled for the start line for the 1000m races. No opportunity to do that on the Saturday when the stands were almost full.

Valerie Maltais - ready to go
Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell
Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell

Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell
I did prefer the view from the end of the track where we had a great view of the athletes coming around the bend.

Photo credit: Suzanne Sewell

Hopefully the event will be held again in Toronto. I would definitely return to see the world's best speed skaters in action. Seeing it live gives you such a greater appreciation for the sport and the speed at which the skaters go around the track.

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