British speed skaters in Canada for first stage of ISU World Cup
Friday, 19 October 2012
October 19 - Britain's short track speed skaters are taking to the ice in Canada this weekend for the first stage of the 2012-2013 International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup.
The eight-strong Nottingham-based team will be challenging the world's best speed skaters in Calgary, as they begin their campaign to duplicate their medal success from last season.
Skaters Jon Eley, Richard Shoebridge, Paul Stanley, Ian Upcott, Jack Whelbourne, Billy Simms, Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin travelled to Canada last week, in preparation for the event this weekend.
The second World Cup event will follow next week, starting on Friday (October 26) and lasting until Sunday (October 28) in Montreal.
Last year, the squad bought home two medals at the first ISU World Cup in Salt Lake City, with Eley beating the Olympic champion to win gold in the 500 metres and then going on to take silver in the 5,000m relay alongside teammates Shoebridge, Whelbourne and Stanley.
Before travelling to Canada Eley said: "Canada is one of my favourite places to race, as an athlete you are always well looked after and they have fast ice which gives a good combination of grip and glide.
"I would like to be in the medals again in Canada, short track is so unpredictable though so you never can tell."
The squad showed their dominance over the Europeans at the Invitation Cup in the Netherlands earlier in September, where they won eleven out of twelve possible titles, but this weekend will be the first event for the skaters this season on the world speed skating circuit.
Christie, silver medallist at the Saguenay leg of last year's World Cup series, started this season in style winning every distance at the Invitation Cup.
Talking before the team left for Calgary, performance director Stuart Horsepool commented: "The team showed a lot of strength in Holland, but it's always hard to tell at that time of year whether other countries are on form.
"Next weekend will give us a better idea of where the team is at compared to the rest of the world, and what work we need to do this year before Sochi 2014.
"Last year during the ISU World Cup series we had our best ever medal haul.
"We won seven medals in total, and the squad has only got stronger and more experienced since."