World records have tumbled in Short Track Speed Skating over the past two decades. Canada dominated early in the Men’s field before an Asian charge in the past decade, while Republic of Korea and China have dominated the Women’s fastest times. But some Canadian and Dutch greats have hit back over the past few years.
The fastest women on ice
Remarkable Bulgarian Skater Evgenia Radanova broke the women’s 500m record in 2000 in Lake Placid (USA) – and then lowered the mark again in 2001 in Calgary (CAN).
Evgenia Radanova (BUL) competes during the 2000 Winter Goodwill Games in Salt Lake City (USA) @GettyImages
That record, 43.671 seconds, would stand for well over six years – but then came the legend that is China’s Wang Meng. Wang managed to beat the 500m record on four occasions in 2008, including twice on the same day, and lowering her own mark again in 2013 to 42.597s.
Her Chinese teammate Fan Kexin managed it in 2014, before Elise Christie of Great Britain clocked 42.335s in Salt Lake City two seasons later.
Elise Christie (GBR) competes during the 2016 ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Salt Lake City (USA) @ISU
But it is Canada’s Kim Boutin who can currently claim the title of fastest woman on ice, after a Salt Lake City skate in 2019 dropped the mark to 41.936s.
Kim Boutin (CAN) celebrates during the 2019 ISU World Cup Short Track in Salt Lake (USA) @ISU
“I’m the first woman to skate the 500 in under 42 seconds and that makes me incredibly happy,” Boutin said afterwards. “After my start, I told myself things were going well, and then I heard the crowd cheering after the first lap and I said, ‘This is happening, let’s go.’”
Asian nations dominate Women’s distances
In the 1000m and 1500m, the twin powers of Republic of Korea and China have set almost all the records since 2000. Yang Yang (A) was the frontrunner in the 1000m, defeating her own record in 2001 and 2002 to post a mark of one minute, 31.191 seconds.
Yang Yang (CHN) competes during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City (USA) @GettyImages
The two nations then started a tug of war over the record, with Byun Chun-Sa (KOR) claiming it in 2003, Wang Meng (CHN) retrieving in 2005, and Jin Sun-Yu (KOR) retaking the honor later the same year.
Wang then took the record in 2008, and Zhou Yang (CHN) lowered it with an outstanding performance in the semi-finals at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games (1:29.049).
Canada’s Valérie Maltais broke the Asian nations’ dominance in 2012 – but her mark lasted just two days before Korea responded, with Sim Suk-Hee setting a dizzying time (1:26.661) that would last a decade.
It was only at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games that the Netherlands’ powerful Suzanne Schulting finally broke the record, registering 1:26.514 on her way to a gold medal.
Suzanne Schulting (NED) celebrates during the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages
“I became really confident out there after skating a world record,” Schulting said of her experience in Beijing. “I was really excited and was focusing on what I had to do and on my technique. It’s insane.”
The 1500m mark, meanwhile, has remained under Asian guardianship, with Choi Eun-Kyung (KOR) beating compatriot Kim Moon-Jung’s time in Salt Lake City in 2002.
Jung Eun-Ju (KOR) bettered that in 2004 in Beijing, skating 2:18.861, before China’s Zhou Yang clocked 2:16.729 on Salt Lake’s famously rapid ice in 2008.
The record stood until November 2016, when it was destroyed by Choi Minjeong (KOR) in Salt Lake in 2:14.354.
Minjeong Choi (KOR) celebrates during the 2016 ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Salt Lake (USA) @GettyImage
Canadian men go record-crazy at turn of millennium
Canada has always been – and remains – a Short Track powerhouse but their men’s team was perhaps at its pinnacle around the turn of the millennium.
Jeff Scholten started it all off: he broke the men’s 500m record (in 41.742s) in Calgary in March 2000, and added the best-ever 1000m time a day later (1:26.970).
Jeff Scholten (CAN) skates during the 2003 ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Kearns (USA) @GettyImages
The brilliant racer, who is now a coach in the Canada set-up, would go on to lower the 500m mark twice more, in 2001 and 2003, before his compatriot Jean-Francois Monette set the record seven months later (41.184s) – all on the super-fast ice of Calgary.
Francois Hamelin did even better in 2007 (41.066s), before Sung Si-Bak (KOR) finally wrestled the record away from Canada in 2008.
JR Celski of USA seized the record in 2012 – becoming the first sprinter to go under 40 seconds, clocking 39.937s in Calgary.
The emergence of Wu Dajing of China has been a gamechanger, however. In one of the finest sporting feats of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Dajing smashed the 500m record twice on the same day, winning gold in 39.584s having previously lowered the mark in the quarter-finals.
Wu Dajing (CHN) celebrates during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games in Pyeonchang (KOR) @GettyImages
“Today, I didn’t give my competitors a chance and I kept my speed from the start,” Wu said afterwards. “More importantly, I think I believed in myself.”
Korea and China’s men begin to dominate charge
The progression of the other men’s records were similar, meanwhile: it was Canadians and more Canadians at the start of the century – with Scholten, then Steve Robillard, then Jean-Francois Monette all registering the fastest 1000m.
In the 1500m, Canada’s Andrew Quinn, Eric Bedard and Steve Robillard all held the record through 2000 and 2001 – briefly interrupted by USA’s Apolo Ohno, who took it in late 2001 before Robillard reclaimed it the following year.
But then came the period of Asian Short Track dominance. In the 1000m, Li Jiajun wrestled the honor away for China in 2004, with the first-ever skate under one minute, 25 seconds (1:24.674), but Canadians Michael Gilday in 2007 then Charles Hamelin in 2009 (1.23.454) reclaimed it.
Kwak Yoon-Gy (KOR) set a time in Calgary in 2012 which would stand for over three years, before Semen Elistratov beat it in 2016 (1:22.607, set in Dresden).
Hwang Daeheon (KOR) currently holds the 1000m record thanks to a peerless 1:20.875 skate in Salt Lake City in 2016.
Hwang Daeheon (KOR) competes during the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer (NOR) @GettyImages
In the 1500m, meanwhile, Ahn Hyun-Soo (KOR) set a blistering pace in 2003 (2:10.639), his record standing for eight years. Noh Jinkyu (KOR) lowered the bar to 2:09.041 in 2011.
Netherlands great Sjinkie Knegt blasted that mark into oblivion in Salt Lake City in 2016, however, skating 2:07.943 the day after Hwang took the 1000m record at the same ISU World Cup on the lightning Utah ice.
Sjinkie Knegt (NED) celebrates during the 2016 ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Salt Lake (USA) @ISU
“I felt great. A few laps from the end, I pulled the trigger,” Knegt said.
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