(L-R) Shaoang Liu (HUN) and Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) celebrate in the 1000m final 2021 ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Clean sweep for Schulting and hard-fought victory for Shaoang Liu on final day in Dordrecht
Suzanne Schulting (NED) confirmed her status as the best female Short Track speed skater on the planet at the 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht on Sunday. The men’s race was far tighter, but Shaoang Liu (HUN) emerged as World Champion after a close, hard-fought campaign.
Schulting in class of her own as she takes clean sweep
Suzanne Schulting (NED) confirmed her status as the world’s best female Short Track speed skater – and one of winter sport’s greatest athletes, full stop – at the 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht on Sunday.
She won both the 1000m gold and the 3000m Superfinal to complete a clean sweep of all four individual races. It meant she secured her second overall World gold, retaining the title she first lifted in 2019.
Schulting was simply a class above the rest of the field. In the 1000m, her favorite distance, she took the lead with six laps to go, and did what she had done on Saturday in both the 500m and 1500m: applied so much speed that nobody else could cope.
Only Hanne Desmet (BEL) – who trains with Schulting thanks to the Netherlands-Belgium coaching partnership – could get anywhere near her. Desmet took silver, while Courtney Sarault of Canada won bronze.
It was no wonder most of the field was left behind – including world class skaters like Arianna Fontana (ITA). Schulting completed the 1000m in one of the fastest times ever.
“I’m super happy and defending my 1000m title also felt like a relief somehow,” said Schulting afterwards. “I was so surprised when Hanne said ‘look at the screen’ and I found out my time was just 0.2 seconds behind the World record.
“I didn’t think about it going into the race, it wasn’t really my goal [getting a World record]. But it would be really nice to have. It is still on my list. Having won three World titles here so far and defending my 1000m and overall World title really makes me happy.”
Schulting then cruised to victory in the 3000m Superfinal, with Sarault coming second and Selma Poutsma (NED) in third.
It left her on a remarkable 136 points. Saurault got overall silver with 58 points, while Fontana secured bronze with 39 points.
“Today I think was the most difficult day, having all the pressure on me,” said Schulting. “To come away with all gold medals, and also winning the relay, is just amazing. I couldn’t have finished this competition any better.”
While the field was missing several Republic of Korea racers who might have given Schulting a tougher weekend, her worth as champion and status as world no.1 cannot be questioned. As Sofia Prosvirnova (RSU) said afterwards: “Suzanne is just unbeatable right now. She is in a class of her own.”
Schulting’s Dutch teammate Poutsma agreed. “I see her train every day, and I know she has this in her,” she said. “I knew she was capable of doing this, and it’s amazing to see she’s done it.”
Emerging star Sarault can also be happy with her weekend. “I am very proud with how I did,” she said. “I came to this competition wanting to be on the podium. I kind of forgot what it was like to win medals and celebrate, so this was really special for me.”
On Schulting, she added: “In the end, it’s still Short Track, anything can happen. But I always like it to compete against the strongest athletes and she is certainly one of those.”
Brotherly love reaps rewards for Hungary
Shaoang Liu of Hungary was crowned overall champion at the Dordrecht 2021 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships on Sunday – with a huge helping hand from his brother, Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN).
The Liu siblings put on a tactical masterclass to help 22-year-old Shaoang seize overall gold, and 25-year-old Shaolin Sandor the silver.
Shaoang, who won the 500m on Saturday, started the day on the same number of points as Canadian veteran Charles Hamelin.
But in the semi-final of the 1000m, Shaolin helped to eliminate Hamelin. A superb overtaking manoeuvre on the outside unsettled the Canadian, who was forced wide and didn’t qualify for the final.
Then, in the final, Shaolin blocked Shaoang’s next-closest opponent for the overall crown, Semen Elistratov (RSU) – before taking the lead and winning gold in the distance himself. Shaoang won silver in the 1000m and Italian phenomenon Pietro Sighel the bronze.
The 3000m Superfinal was all-important for the overall standings – and things got complicated. France’s Sebastian Lepape lapped the field twice to win the race, but Shaolin also lapped the field once with Itzhak de Laat (NED), who finished second.
When the race concluded – with Shaolin third and Shaoang sixth – neither brother seemed to know who had just become World Champion. Shaolin seemed genuinely worried that he’d stolen the limelight.
It wasn’t the case. After the maths was done, Shaoang was declared overall winner, with 60 points. Shaolin Sandor had silver with 55, and Elistratov bronze with 44.
“There are no tactics, it’s just brother love,” said Shaoang. “It really works like that.
“When we crossed the line we were both speechless, the only thing we could do was just scream. It might look weird or super crazy, but it feels super good.”
Shaolin added: “You can see that when we are on the ice together, no one can beat us. We always look out for each other. It’s simple. You always know your brother is there. Crossing the line, I’m always looking to find him because I want to hug him.
“It’s a good feeling when you win, but when you win with your brother that’s different. The Dordrecht rink has gave us some good memories. It gave me a first European overall title and now Shaoang took the first overall World title.”
Shaolin Sandor’s 1000m triumph was his second World Championship gold, following his 500m victory in 2016. Shaoang, meanwhile, becomes just the second European since Wilf O’Reilly (GBR) in 1991 to lift the title (Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands won in 2015).
Ultimately, teamwork had won the day in this usually most individual of sports: the Lius are unique in the world of skating. While national teammates sometimes help each other out, none work as a genuine unit like the Lius.
The Netherlands won the men’s 5000m relay, meanwhile, with De Laat and Knegt making up for a disappointing weekend in the individual distances by getting gold.
Where to Watch
Viewers will be able to watch the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel.
All the information is available in the Where to Watch. For further information regarding the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, including the announcement and entry list please visit the dedicated ISU Event Page and listen to The Ice Skating Podcast.
Subscribe to the ISU Newsletter to receive the latest information from the ISU and you can also subscribe to the Skating ISU YouTube Channel to receive notifications when live streams or new videos are published.