We have been a year with numerous cancellations, but in March 2020 the World Cup Shorttrack was one of the first international sports tournaments to pass through.
After that imperfect end of the last season, the coronacrisis also throws soot into the food this winter. The World Cup matches have been cancelled one by one.
If the start of the European Championships on Friday morning in Gdansk, Poland, it is almost a year since an international showdown took place.
“ Ah man, you should know… “, Suzanne Schulting sighs on whether she is looking forward to her first big short track match in eleven months. “I‘m so excited about it.”
“ I even stood on the ice yesterday so cheerfully that coach Jeroen Otter asked me if anyone had made a joke.”
These European Championships promise to become an open battle more than ever. Because of the lack of competition, it is a mystery to everyone how the relations will lie. Although defending defender Schulting will not be able to escape the favorites role.
She also travelled to Poland to become European Champion for the third time in a row. “I am very strong at the moment. In the training sessions I already feel that I am top.”
As if Schulting is not clear enough, Otter also does a thing in the bag: “Suus is just incredibly good. She goes for the title, perhaps with gold at all distances.”
So with the shape it is good. Schulting proved that at the end of last month in the qualifying matches on the long track, where she placed herself surprisingly for the World Cup distances.
addition, those few matches she did in action on the short track, the NK and an invitation tournament, Schulting did what she did so often in recent years: win. It must be said that the Olympic and World Champion was not particularly challenged there.
That will be different next weekend, expects Schulting. Although, especially given the absence of prize gun Arianna Fontana, she doesn’t know exactly where the competition comes from.
“ I will take everyone into account because you don‘t know exactly how good they are. It’s important to keep my face and then just pop in that title.”
Knegt back on EK stage
For Sjinkie Knegt, the European Championships are his return to the international stage after a much longer absence. “Yes, that will have been 2018”, Knegt digs into his memory. “That‘s a great time ago.”
The reason for this long absence, of course, lies in the “stove incident” of early 2019, in which Knegt suffered severe burns all over his body. There was a long rehabilitation, but by now Knegt is hardly bothered by it.
“ At least it doesn’t bother me anymore. Only after a hard workout I still feel that my leg itches a little more than usual. I‘ll have to deal with that.”
‘Not a favorite, but outsider‘
the coming days it will be clear whether the triple European champion will be able to report again as usual at the top of the ranking. “It is also for myself to wait and see what I am capable of now.”
“ But I always want to participate in the prizes, so also now. I do have faith in it, though I’m not a favorite. I see myself as an outsider for the European title.”