The International Skating Union Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Dresden began today with early round action in nine different events.
With the competition set to last for three days till Sunday (February 3) at the EnergieVerbund Arena, heats went ahead in the men’s and women’s 500 metres, 1,000m and 1,500m, plus the women’s 3,000m, men’s 5,000m and the mixed 2,000m relays.
The most advanced individual action took place at the 1,500m distance, where quarter-finals went ahead for men and women.
On the men’s side qualifying fastest for the semi-finals was France’s Thibaut Fauconnet, winner of heat six in 2min 13.558sec.
With only one automatic qualification spot available from each quarter-final, the all-round European champion from 2010 sealed his spot in the next round ahead of his compatriot Sebastien Lepape, who went through as a fastest loser with a time of 2:13.641.
In all, 16 others went through, including South Korea's Lee June Seo, the current World Cup leader who advanced by winning heat two in 2:14.106.
In the women’s 1,500m the fastest today by a fair margin was Canada’s Kim Boutin, who won heat four in 2:18.474.
She went through with a time a full 10 seconds faster than the current European champion Suzanne Schulting from The Netherlands, while Olympic champion Choi Min Jeong from South Korea set a time of 2:23.328 to win heat six, five seconds slower than Boutin.
The other quarter-finals today went ahead in the relays.
In the mixed 2,000m event Canada’s team of Cedrik Blais, Boutin, Claudia Gagnon and Charles Hamelin qualified fastest in 2:39.807.
That time saw them win the third heat of three, while Russia were the next fastest qualifiers in 2:40.038, closely followed by Kazakhstan’s quartet who finished second in heat one behind the Russians with a time of 2:40.247.
In the women’s 3,000m relay the Dutch team of Ranne de Vries, Schulting, Yara can Kerkhof and Lara van Ruijven qualified fastest in 4:09.226, just ahead of Canada, who managed 4:09.289, while Canada did set the fastest time in the men’s 5,000m relay.
In that their team of Charlie Cournoyer, Pascal Dion, Steven Dubois and Samuel Girard won heat one in 6:39.497.
Tomorrow the action is scheduled tocontinue, largely with quarter-finals and semi-finals, though the medal races in the 1,000m events will also go ahead in the afternoon.
There was drama in the men's heats at that distance today as the World Cup leader Shaoang Liu crashed out.