Britain’s top speed skaters had their first competitive fixture of the season this weekend, 24-25 August, with the National Squad Open Trials taking place at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham.
The two day event saw current members of the GB Short Track squad compete amongst themselves and against skaters from across the UK in order to reaffirm their position on the national squad for this coming competitive season.
Skaters were faced with slow ice, with ice temperatures above average for competitive skating, but despite the conditions, skaters performed well and produced impressive pre-season times in the pursuit events.
Performance Director Stuart Horsepool said: “Conditions were not ideal for fast racing this weekend and yet they were still fast. I’m pleased with how the squad performed and I’m also delighted to be welcoming three very promising new skaters onto the squad.”
The latest additions to the squad include Aydin Djemal (16), Jack Burrows (16) and Anthony Cast (16), after their strong performances at both the trials and international competitions last season. The trio will now train with the squad at the National Performance Centre in Nottingham.
The final squad selection for the ISU World Cup Series, including the Olympic Qualifying Events, was also finalised following the trials. Nine skaters have been selected, and they will travel to Shanghai for the opening World Cup on the 26-29 September.
The men’s squad will feature Paul Stanley, Richard Shoebridge, Jack Whelbourne and Jon Eley (the relay team who broke the world record in 2011), with the addition of Josh Cheetham (20) as the fifth member for the relay.
Alex Stanley (25) and Kathryn Thomson (17) will join Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin in the women’s squad, with the aim of qualifying Britain’s first women’s short track relay team for a Winter Olympic Games.
Performance Director Stuart Horsepool said: “We have a strong squad going into the competitive season. They have worked exceptionally hard over the summer months and the times they were skating at trials are a good indicator that preparations have gone well.
“Of course, the real test is when they are put into competitive situations. While flat-out speed is important, it’s tactics and race skills that determine success in this sport, because very few athletes can skate from the front and stay there the whole race.”
Horsepool added: “We’ve also seen junior members of the squad coming through and equalling the times our senior skaters were skating at trials last year. These are athletes who will be targeting PyeongChang in 2018, so I’m pleased to see that we have a depth of talent within the squad for Sochi and beyond.”
World Cup Team (including Olympic Qualifying Events):
1. Jon Eley
2. Jack Whelbourne
3. Richard Shoebridge
4. Paul Stanley
5. Josh Cheetham
1. Elise Christie
2. Charlotte Gilmartin
3. Alex Stanley
4. Kathryn Thomson
The 2013/2014 GB Short Track Squad:
1. Jack Whelbourne, Nottingham
2. Paul Stanley, Solihull
3. Richard Shoebridge, Solihull
4. Jon Eley, Solihull
5. Josh Cheetham, Nottingham
6. Murray Cochrane, Dundee
7. Billy Simms, Solihull
8. Farrell Treacy, Henley-In-Arden
9. Aydin Djemal, Guildford
10. Jack Burrows, Nottingham
11. Anthony Cast, Guildford
1. Elise Christie, Livingston
2. Charlotte Gilmartin, Redditch
3. Alex Stanley, Nottingham
4. Kathryn Thomson, Kilmarnock
Full results from the National Squad Open Trials are now available here.
For more information on GB Short Track, visit www.gbshorttrack.org.