The weekend’s ISU Star Class Cup, held at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre was a success all round for Team GB; with strong performances, 14 medals and an arena full of inspired young children. The competition, which took place between Friday 9th and Sunday 11th January saw Elise Christie take the hat trick, after she raced to victory in all three of her distances; 1500m, 1000m and 500m.
Elise Christie wasn’t the only member of the squad to race well this weekend, with the three day event seeing some really strong performances from her team mates too. Charlotte Gilmartin, who raced alongside Christie, skated well to take silver in all three of her races, putting her in second place in the overall classification.
The ISU Star Class Cup is designed to give skaters the opportunity to hone their racing skills in a competitive environment.
Christie commented: “This weekend has been really useful for me to fine tune my racing skills and focus on the technical side of things. It’s been good competing on home ice and not having to travel has helped me to mentally prepare. I feel that my skating hasn’t been as strong this season – I’ve been fast but not as efficient and the Star Class was the perfect opportunity to work on that. It’s always a nice feeling to win, especially taking first and second with my team mate, Charlotte.
“I’m now looking ahead to the European Championships in Holland in two weeks time. This weekend has been good practice going into that, where we will face some tougher challenges when we come up against more experienced skaters”.
In the men’s racing, Nottingham’s Jack Whelbourne claimed the top spot in the men’s overall classification after winning a tense and exciting 1000m final on Sunday between Team GB and the Netherlands. In 1000m, Billy Simms took second place after crossing the line a split second after Whelbourne.
On Saturday, the limelight was on Jon Eley and Paul Stanley as they took first and second respectively in the men’s 500m event. Richard Shoebridge took silver in the men’s 1500m on Friday, finishing just behind Dutch skater, Dennis Visser.
Stuart Horsepool, GB Short Track Performance Director commented: “It’s easy to get carried away with medals, but we were always going to win quite a lot at this level of competition. Saying that, I am very pleased with the squad’s performances this weekend. There was a lot of pressure for them to do well since they were skating on home ice, and they handled that well by going out and putting in some strong performances. There were a few mistakes as well, but that’s to be expected and this competition is designed for them to develop their racing skills.
“The competition on home ice in Nottingham has been ideally timed as it’s been great practice for the squad and we can now get straight back on the ice and continue to prepare for the European Championships at the end of January”.
Nottingham born Jack Burrows, who skated in the Junior B (U17) events this weekend also did really well, claiming Gold in the 500m, silver in 1500m and bronze in 500m, which put him in second place in the overall classification.
Horsepool added: “I was very pleased with Jack’s skating this weekend. He has continued to improve throughout the season and he’s winning against people that he didn’t beat before. Within his age group, he’s a formidable athlete. He needs to continue to work hard next season when he will move in to the Junior A (U19) age group, racing and competing in the Junior World Championships, following in the footsteps of Jack Whelbourne, Elise Christie, Charlotte Gilmartin and Jon Eley in reaching a final and medalling at Junior World level”.
The ISU Star Class Cup was the first international speed skating competition to be held in Nottingham. The event, which is supported and funded by the International Skating Union (ISU) and the National Ice Skating Association (NISA), gave spectators the opportunity to see Britain’s top speed skaters in action on home ice.
This weekend wasn’t just about the racing for the British skaters though. On Friday, 3,000 school children were invited to watch the competition in order to inspire them to become involved in the sport. The GB Short Track team worked in partnership with the National Ice Centre to engage the schools, to build on Nottingham and the UK’s sporting legacy.
Jack Whelbourne said: “To skate in front of my family and a home crowd has been a great experience, but to compete in front of all those school kids on Friday was a feeling that can’t be beat. I spent some time sitting with them in the stands on Friday and it was clear they really enjoyed the day; they were excited nonstop. Hopefully, we’ve helped to inspire the next generation of potential Olympians.
“This weekend proves that Short Track is a sport that can fill stadiums. We’ve got great facilities in Nottingham and would like to host a European Championships, World Cup or World Championships next”.
For all the results from the ISU Star Class Cup in Nottingham, go to shorttrackonline.info.