Ellia Smeding has taken Great Britain’s first ever World Cup Medal in Long Track Speed Skating this weekend (25th – 26th) at one of two Junior World Cups.
The event, which took place in Inzell, Germany, saw Junior and Neo-Senior skaters go head-to-head to earn their countries a place on the podium.
Ellia’s results on her individual distances were not what she had hoped, for but did ensure her a place for the Worlds in Salt Lake City in March.
But Ellia went on to take Britain’s first ever medal at the competition: Gold in the Neo-Seniors Ladies Mass Start event.
Nineteen year old Ellia finished in front of Russian skaters Veronika Suslova and Anastasiia Zueva. Ellia came out on top with a time of 6:11.82, leading the race from start to finish.
Ellia said: “After some disappointing races, I decided to pick up the pace a bit as I’m not so keen on slow Mass Starts - but no one followed me.
“I had to make the decision to slow down and go back to the pack, or accelerate and try to stay ahead of them.
“I saw my coach Phil in the corner telling me to give it a shot and try to stay ahead. I was able to keep a good pace and eventually finished half a lap ahead.
“It was such a shock to win Gold, as I hadn’t discussed such tactics beforehand. I’m so happy I was strong enough to finish all 10 laps solo and all the hard work I have been putting in paid off.
“It feels so great to win a first World Cup medal for Great Britain in Long Track, and I hope there are more to come! I’m looking forward to more big races coming up in the new year”.
Peter Riches and Sam Airey also put in performances at the event, with Peter claiming three new British Junior Boys records in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m - scores which qualified him for the Junior World Championships in February 2018.
Sam unfortunately could not find his form, and pulled out of his last distances. He’s determined to train hard in preparation for the next World Cup; Innsbruck towards the end of January.
Coach to all three skaters Phil Brojaka said: “Each year the level at World Cups gets higher, but so does the level of our British skaters.
“I was very impressed with Peter Riches, who skated some outstanding times for his age category which were new National Junior records too.
“This offers great potential for the near future. Combining Short Track and Long Track helps in many ways, and Peter is a prime example of that.
Ellia Smeding winning the Mass Start was a huge highlight of the weekend. Not only is it Long Track’s first World Cup medal, it was also Gold!
“Tactically and physically the race was good - and this, in my mind, goes down in history books.
“Overall a satisfying weekend with good team spirit and exciting times ahead, having qualified for big races in the new year and hopefully more success. We are very grateful for the support we have had working towards this race.”
The overall brilliants results come after Long Track celebrates one of the most successful starts to a season for the UK in recent years; including a whopping five new British records.
At least three speed skaters have successfully qualified for the Senior World Championships, establishing team GB's first World Cup attendance since Phil Brojaka's performance in 2010.
Cornelius Kersten, Alison Bates and Gemma Cooper have all successfully qualified for the Senior World Cups with exceptionally strong performances this season.
But the trio are still fighting to reach scores for Olympic Qualification, winning Great Britain Long Track places in February's 2018 Games.
The team were already celebrating four new British records from Gemma Cooper in the 3000m Senior Ladies, Samuel Airey - 500m Junior Men, Peter Riches - 1000m Junior Men and the 1500m Junior Men. This becomes five with Peter’s latest success over the weekend in the Junior Men’s 500m.
The string of new records and qualifications mark the most successful first month of a new season the UK has had in recent history with Samuel Airey, Peter Riches and Ellia Smeding also qualifying for the Junior and Neo-Senior World Cups.
UK Long Track Coach Tom Fell said: "There haven't been many races, but despite this UK Long Track has made some brilliant accomplishments, including lots of personal bests, on top of World Cup Qualifications and National records.
"We're celebrating a great start, but the main goal this season is to strengthen our international presence with solid World Cup performances and, hopefully, Olympic Qualification.
"But as well as setting our sights high at elite level, through our successes we're also hoping to increase this great sport's participation numbers and raise Long Track's profile.
"We also work to do this through regular training weekends and working all the time to increase numbers of qualified coaches and our first race officials."