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British speed skaters prepare for European Championships

Athletes from the Great British Short Track speed skating squad have been preparing for the 2015 European Championships which are taking place at Dordrecht, Holland from 23rd to the 25th January.

Competing individually over the weekend will be Britain’s best senior female speed skaters, Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin alongside two of the squad’s top senior male skaters, Jack Whelbourne, and Paul Stanley.  The successful Men’s Relay team will also be competing this weekend and the team includes Jack Whelbourne, Paul Stanley, Jon Eley, Richard Shoebridge and Billy Simms.

The ISU European Short Track Championships is an annual event which is a warm up event ahead of the ISU World Short track Championships taking place in Moscow from 13th to the 15th of March.

Stuart Horsepool, Performance Director of the GB Short Track squad, said: “The European Short Track Championships is a really important event.  Over the years the standard of skaters competing has grown hugely, and each year it gets more and more challenging for the team.  The skaters have been training hard over the past couple of weeks and it will be good to get them out competing at a championships level again.  What I want to see from the skaters is them practicing their racing craft in a competitive environment so that when it comes to the World Championships they are ready to go hard and hopefully reach the podium.”

Usually the three day competition format consists of the three distances (1500m, 1000m, 500m) being separated by day, however this year the races have been mixed up so the qualifying races take place on the Friday, and the 1500 and 500 quarter -finals, semi- finals, and finals take place on the Saturday. On the Sunday the 1000m final races (quarters, semis and finals) will take place along with the 5000m relay final and the 3000m super final.

Stuart commented on the change: “The new format this year which will be quite challenging for the skaters because they will have to race quite tactically to reserve energy, however with the World Championships being in the same format, we can learn from this weekend so that the skaters will be in top form for the competition in March.” 

Last year Elise Christie left the European Championships as the reigning 1000m ladies European Champion and she is hoping to hold on to that title. Christie commented: “I’m looking forward to getting back out there competing at a championship level again this weekend. Over the past few months my training has been focussed on tactics, strategy and racing lines which has been quite challenging for me as I usually focus on my strength and speed. This competition will be about putting those skills to the test whilst I compete against some very talented athletes and prepare for the World Championships.”

To keep up with the action over the weekend please go to: http://shorttrack.sportresult.com/