Alex Stanley is stressing the importance of Britain’s women’s short track speed skating team getting it right from the onset as they bid to secure an historic place at the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
Stanley is part of a four-strong British women’s 3000m relay team heading into the World Cup season with two effective warm-up events in Shanghai and Seoul before two Olympic qualifiers.
The 24-year-old will join forces with individual 1,000m World Cup champion Elise Christie, European bronze medallist Charlotte Gilmartin and rising star Kathryn Thomson in the relay team.
Britain have never fielded a women’s relay team at the Winter Games and need to be ranked in the top eight once the results from the two World Cup Olympic qualifiers are combined.
They take place in Torino and Kolomna in November and Stanley wants the British team to be ready, insisting the battle to skate at the Olympics is like no other competition.
“We have to come top eight in the two Olympic qualifiers. We have got two Worlds Cups first and they are like practice,” said Stanley. “They run the Olympic qualifying format, which is actually different to the World Cup format from last year.
“So we race Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday whereas last season we raced Friday, Saturday and Sunday – everyone goes into the routine of when they are going to race and what is the best combination.
“Then we have the two Olympic qualifiers, we need to come top eight and that is after the two competitions. So if we get one top eight and then not another top eight, we run a risk, so we have got to make sure that both competitions are good.
“Everyone comes out the woodwork in Olympic year, I remember the last Olympic qualifiers, there were so many people. There were pre-pre-preliminaries for the 500m it was insane. A lot of countries come out.
“You don’t see them all the time; they are not as experienced because they don’t have the funds or whatever. There are about 12 to 14 teams that are around about trying to qualify; you have got the top four and then another four or five teams that are trying to get the other spots.
“They are more European anyway so we feel a little bit more comfortable trying to beat those teams, there is definitely an opportunity there, it is quite exciting to have a relay again, because we haven’t had one for a while.”
Britain fielded a relay team at just the final World Cup of six last season in Dresden while they skated at the European Championships in Malmo, ranking sixth overall, and not the World Championships in Debrecen.
However Stanley, sister of Jack Whelbourne and husband of Paul Stanley, both of whom are on the British team, sees putting her focus into the relay as also benefitting her aims to skate individually in Sochi.
“A relay spot is the main focus but if we get a relay that makes it easier for us to get more spots individually as well because they give the rest of the individual sport to relay skaters,” she added.
“If you have a relay team you are more likely to get three people skating individually but it depends on what we qualify – the relay is the main focus for me.”
© Sportsbeat 2013