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Second Stage Of Olympic Qualifying Beckons For McAnuff And O’Brien in Japan

This weekend Sean McAnuff and Liam O’Brien continue their pursuit for 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic quota places at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Nagoya, Japan (28-31 October).

McAnuff and O’Brien will be racing from tomorrow (28 October) inside the Nippon Gaishi Arena. First up will be the 1500m heats and quarterfinals which will be followed later in the day by 500m preliminaries and heats. On Friday (29 October) the 1000m preliminaries and heats will take place. Subsequent rounds and finals will be held on Saturday (30 October) and Sunday (31 October).

For McAnuff and O’Brien, the goal will be to progress as far as they can in each distance to accumulate ranking points at each World Cup event. There are 32 Olympic quota places in the 500m and 1000m distances and 36 in the 1500m on offer. Full rules of the Olympic qualifying procedures can be viewed here.

After the first World Cup in Beijing, China last weekend, the current World Cup Classification for the Irish skaters in each distance is as follows:

Sean McAnuff – 500m (63rd), 1000m (58th), 1500m (43rd)

Liam O’Brien – 500m (53rd), 1000m (48th), 1500m (33rd)

The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating will be streamed live on the ISU Skating YouTube channel. The event can also be followed on social media via the #ShortTrackSkating hashtag.

Schedule (Irish time)

28 October

02:30 1500m Heats
05:06 1500m Quarterfinals
07:44 500m Preliminaries
09:14 500m Heats

29 October

03:37 1000m Preliminaries
05:32 1000m Heats

30 October

03:06 1500m Ranking Finals
03:47 500m Ranking Finals
06:20 1500m Semifinals
07:13 1500m Finals
08:02 500m Quarterfinals
08:40 500m Semifinals
09:17 500m Finals

31 October

01:17 1000m Ranking Finals
05:19 1000m Quarterfinals
06:00 1000m Semifinals
06:40 1000m Finals

McAnuff and O’Brien Set Personal Bests At Beijing Olympic Test Event

Team Ireland short track speed skaters Sean McAnuff (24) and Liam O’Brien (22) have concluded competing at the opening ISU World Cup in China, the first step on the road to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, with each athlete setting a new personal best at the event on what will become Olympic ice in February next year.

On the opening day of competiton, McAnuff and O’Brien lined up for the opening rounds of the 1500m and 500m distances. In Heat 2 of the 1500m heats, O’Brien initially finished fourth in a time of 2:24.378. However, following a review by race officials, an American skater who finished ahead O’Brien was penalised and the Irishman was advanced to the quarterfinals. McAnuff drew to race in Heat 5 and this turned out to be the swiftest of the fourteen 1500m heats in Beijing. He finished fourth in a time of 2:17.035 smashing his own personal best by three seconds even though it was not enough to advance any further. It did garner him an overall placement for the distance of 43rd and two World Cup ranking points. O’Brien came back for the 1500m quarterfinals and raced in Heat 7 coming in fifth with a time of 2:22.455 meaning he would race again in the ranking finals on Day Three of the event.

In the afternoon of Day One, McAnuff and O’Brien were back on the ice for the 500m preliminaries. McAnuff raced in Heat 4 and finished fifth in a time of 43.416 giving him an overall distance classification of 71st. O’Brien came third in Heat 8 with a new personal best time of 42.608 which unfortunately was not sufficient to move on to subsequent rounds and he finished overall in 47th place.

There was a lighter schedule on Day Two of the World Cup with just the 1000m preliminaries to be contested. O’Brien was first up in Heat 4 where he finished fifth in a time of 1:27.858 which was very close to his personal best. He ended up classified in 68th place for the distance. McAnuff took third in Heat 15 with a time of 1:28.911 just missing out on progressing as a fastest third place finisher. He ranked 47th overall for the distance and completed his racing for this World Cup.

On Day Three, O’Brien started in Heat 2 of the 1500m ranking finals. He was in the mix for most of the race, but he was impeded by a Croatian skater with just over three laps to go and crashed into the padding. He got back up and finished in a time of 2:55.839 for sixth place in the heat. He did earn twelve world ranking points for 33rd place in the standings.

McAnuff and O’Brien travel next to Nagoya, Japan to compete in the second ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating of the season this coming weekend (28-31 October).

“There are lots of positives to take into next week in Nagoya,” O’Brien said. “Hopefully, I can build on the results this week and work towards qualifying Ireland a spot at the upcoming Olympics.”

“I am very excited to see that my skating has improved over the last year of training,” McAnuff said. “This World Cup was my first time racing in 20 months, but I feel it gave me the chance to get back into a racing mentality, practice my strategies, and continue to learn for the next World Cup in Japan.”

McAnuff and O’Brien Embark On Quest For Beijing Spots

Short track speed skaters Sean McAnuff (24) and Liam O’Brien (22) begin their journey this weekend to secure quota places for Ireland at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the first of four ISU World Cup events.

McAnuff and O’Brien will be racing from tomorrow (21 October) at the Olympic test event inside the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China. First up will be the 1500m heats and quarterfinals which will be followed later on in the day by 500m preliminaries and heats. On Friday (22 October) the 1000m preliminaries and heats will take place. Subsequent rounds and finals will be held on Saturday (23 October) and Sunday (24 October).

For McAnuff and O’Brien, the goal will be to progress as far as they can in each distance in order to accumulate ranking points at each World Cup event. There are 32 Olympic quota places in the 500m and 1000m distances and 36 in the 1500m on offer. Full rules of the Olympic qualifying procedures can be viewed here.

“My goals for the upcoming World Cups are to give my best effort at everything I do,” McAnuff said. “I want to go through these Olympic qualfiers with a positive attitude and outlook regardless of my results. I hope to meet new athletes and connect with old friends and encourage them in their racing and training efforts. I would love to see us athletes enjoy and take part in our speed skating community in a fun and encouraging way that supports each of us and all the hard work we have put in leading up to this point.”

“I am looking forward to competing at the first World Cup here in Beijing tomorrow,” O’Brien said. “I hope to be able to skate strong and work towards qualifying Ireland a spot at the upcoming Winter Olympics.”

The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating will be streamed live on the ISU Skating YouTube channel. The event can also be followed on social media via the #ShortTrackSkating hashtag.

Schedule (Irish time)

21 October

03:40 1500m Heats
06:16 1500m Quarterfinals
08:44 500m Preliminaries
10:11 500m Heats

22 October

04:47 1000m Preliminaries
06:38 1000m Heats

23 October

03:16 1500m Ranking Finals
04:17 500m Ranking Finals
07:20 1500m Semifinals
08:13 1500m Finals
09:02 500m Quarterfinals
09:40 500m Semifinals
10:17 500m Finals

24 October

01:57 1000m Ranking Finals
06:19 1000m Quarterfinals
07:00 1000m Semifinals
07:40 1000m Finals

Stakelum Selected For Beijing Olympics Figure Skating Qualifier

Conor Stakelum (28) has been selected by the Board of Directors of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) to represent Ireland at this season’s Nebelhorn Trophy (22-25 September) in Oberstdorf, Germany, the final qualifying competition in figure skating for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games.

Stakelum last competed internationally at the European Figure Skating Championships held pre-pandemic in January 2020 and is relishing the opportunity to get back out onto the ice.

“I am very happy to have been selected to compete at the Nebelhorn Trophy,” he said. “I have worked very hard in the absence of competitions over the last year to improve my skating, increase the difficulty of my programmes and to be ready to compete when the chance came. I’m glad that the ISAI board have recognised this and I’m excited to have to opportunity to compete again!”

This will be the Dubliner’s third attempt at Olympic qualification. His two previous tries in 2013 and 2017 provided him with invaluable experience that he hopes to put to good use this time round.

“I learn from every competition I have competed in,” Stakelum said. “The most important thing I remind myself of at these types of events is to focus on my own performances which is all I can control and to enjoy the opportunity.”

The five-time Irish national champion will also be debuting two new programmes in Germany, one of which will have a particularly Irish flavour.

“My short programme is set to a piece of music called ‘Soulseeker’ by Thomas Bergersen. It is a powerful cinematic piece of music which I think suits my style of skating well.

“My free programme is to ‘Riverdance’. Obviously, this is a very well-known piece of music which many people enjoy. I have always wanted to do a programme with an Irish theme so I am glad to be doing so this season.”

Beyond the Olympic qualifier, Stakelum is looking to a more normal season ahead and breaking new ground in terms of his own skating.

“My goals for the season are to enjoy every event I get the opportunity to compete in after such a long time with no competitions. I would also like to show the improvements I have made and hopefully score some personal bests.”

Stakelum will be competing in Germany against athletes from 25 other countries to secure one of the seven remaining places in the men’s event at the Beijing Olympics.