Short track speed skaters Elise Christie and Richard Shoebridge led the way as four Brits progressed through the qualification stages on the opening two days of competition at the first World Cup of the season in Shanghai.
Christie is one of just two females competing over three individual distances in China, the other being Canadian Valérie Maltais, but she didn’t let that faze her as she finished first in all of her races.
This means the Scot will now go on to race in the quarter-finals of both the 1500m and 500m on Saturday, before finishing the event with the 1000m on Sunday – the distance she finished top of the pile of in last season’s World Cup.
Richard Shoebridge followed suit by qualifying for the quarter-finals in the 500m and 1000m, while there was plenty more for Great Britain’s contingent to shout about as Jack Whelbourne and Charlotte Gilmartin also progressed through the qualification rounds of the 1500m.
However it wasn’t all good news as the men’s relay team, consisting of Shoebridge along with Jon Eley, Paul Stanley and Jack Whelbourne, were unable to progress through to the quarter-finals of the 5000m relay after they fell in the closing stages of the heat.
Performance director of GB Short Track Stuart Horsepool said: “Elise has coped very well so far. She was always going to feel pressure coming here, and she has dealt with it and managed to remain focused.
“She is going to have a difficult job over the next couple of days because she is racing a lot more than the other women so fatigue could be an issue, but for Elise it is all good experience, and if this was the Olympic qualifiers, she would have already got enough points to secure a qualification spot for the Games.
“The men (relay) were in a qualifying position behind the Netherlands and together with the Dutch, they were skating away with from the rest of the pack with fifteen laps to go. But unfortunately Richard fell because the ice broke away beneath his blade.
“It’s disappointing and frustrating for the team, but it does demonstrate how unpredictable short track is. They did nothing wrong in the race and they were in a good position, it was just a factor that was out of their control.
“A few individuals had hoped for a better start to their World Cup campaign. Jon (Eley) and Paul (Stanley) didn’t make the top sixteen in their events.
“We know they are capable of better because we have seen the speeds they are capable of in training, and others on the programme are performing, so it is frustrating for them.”
© Sportsbeat 2013