With 134 days to go till the beginning of the Winter Olympics, the Organising Committee of the Audi ISU World Cup Short Track held a press conference in the BOK Hall. 256 athletes from 43 countries step on ice at the first Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Budapest. 145 men and 111 ladies, as well as 20 men relay teams and 18 ladies relay teams have entered the event to be staged between Sept. 28 and Oct 1. These are first ever numbers in the history of these tournaments: the first world records are already broken! Those visiting the BOK Hall can enjoy a real all-star gala: 14 Olympic and 31 World Champions are present. Hungary’s skaters competing in the individual races have been named: men- all distances- Csaba Burján, Liu Shaoang Ádó, Liu Shaoang Sándor. In the ladies’ field: Sára Luca Bácskai (1000m), Bernadett Heidum (1500m), Petra Jászapáti (all distances), Andrea Keszler (500 and 1000m), Zsófia Kónya (500 and 1500m).
Six out of the eight world record holders line up in Budapest. We can see four out of the six junior record holders compete here, among them Liu Shaoang Ádó and Petra Jászapáti. (Quite interestingly there is no Chinese world record holder among the juniors). 18 men and 16 ladies out of the athletes ranked in the first twenty places overall, each gender at the Rotterdam World Championships have also entered the Budapest leg of the World Cup. In addition, the six World Championship podium place-earners – each gender – are also competing at the tournament held in Hungary.
Relay teams will be announced at a later date, one of them, Csaba Burján is celebrating his birthday right today: he has turned 23. Happy Birthday!
Tünde Szabó Dr., State Secretary for Sports:
“We are pleased that Budapest can stage the first leg of the Olympic Qualifying World Cup in Budapest, and think that the Hungarian short trackers are also happy, that they can fight for the Olympic quotas in front of the home audience.
It is of utmost importance for the Government of Hungary to promote sport, we support establishing new facilities, and our goal is to provide every child with the possibility of doing sport. Due to a government decision a multi-purpose sport complex, the Hungarian National Skating Centre is to be established in the Hungarian capital, hopefully by 2021. The successes of the previous years all prove that the discipline is on the right path, and organising such prominent international sport events also contribute to popularizing sport.”
Lajos Kósa, HNSF’s President
“We at the federation have done our best for the success of the World Cup. Our aim is to gain ten quotas for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics: five each gender. I would like to express my gratitude to the Hungarian Government for their support. Besides the nextgen programmes, we have launched the training of the coaches for skating at the University of Physical Education.”
Mihály Orendi, HNSF’s Director General
“We were awarded the right to organise this event in January, so we were in a shortage of time. Despite all this we knew we would be able to make it, all the more so, as our athletes absolutely deserve to compete at such a world event of high significance in front of the home crowd, who also deserve it as due to our skaters’ achievements sport lovers in Hungary have also realised that Hungary can be successful at the Winter Olympics too. “
Orsolya Váradi, Organising Committee’s Director General
“The ice, which is the core point of the event is ready, preparation work has been underway for more than two weeks. The athletes use the ice rink for trainings continuously for several hours every day, we have to meet the needs. The ice surface is 144m³ water, out of which 24 m³ disappear during the day, which is redone by the ice experts overnight.
I am proud to introduce the medals of the World Cup, which can be considered as ‘Hungaricum’ created by the famous Hungarian ceramics manufacture: the Zsolnay.”
Ákos Bánhidi, Head Coach of the Hungarian national team
“I would like to thank the Hungarian Government for the support, and that we have been provided by the superb circumstances, never before. I am very proud of my athletes who have done their best in the preparation phase, and also my professional team, whose work is essential for our success. We’ve been through a very tough preparation phase in the Olympic season, we placed the bar high, and we have never failed it. In the summer we participated in training camps in Hungary, Canada and Italy. Now we are pleased that we can prove in front of the Hungarian crowd that we rightly deserved their attention and support. “
Viktor Knoch, member of the Hungarian national team
“I had a bad fall on the ice in the training camp in Italy, and I was struggling with an injury, so it was doubtful even some weeks ago when I would be able to put on my skates. I cannot skate in any individual event, but am ready to compete in the relay.”
Bernadett Heidum, member of Team Hungary
“I have been participating at World Cup events for more than 20 years, but I have never experienced such an excellent organisation, so the first gold medal should definitely go for the superb circumstances. We hope we can grab some more on the ice. The girls team have improved a lot; we have never had such a strong squad.”
Elise-Victoria Christie, member of Team Great Britain
“I’m in an excellent form, actually I have never been in such a good form. I’m a bit tired, but want to skate well, I’m excited to compete here, although I’m focusing on the PyeongChang Olympics, I need my peak form there. Due to our relationship with Shaolin, I train in two countries, and I feel it a privilege, as this way I can get used to different training conditions, and we get on really well with the Hungarian guys. It’s good that I train here too, as I can meet Shaolin more often too. Anyway, I like Budapest, it’s a beautiful city with lots of cultural and historic sights. What I am keen on here is food, which is way better than in England.”
Ariana Fontana, member of Team Italy
“I don’t count my medals, I know, that I’ve been Overall European Champion six times. In Budapest I want to skate well, and I am focusing on PyeongChang myself. I think every athlete’s first aim is to qualify to the Olympics. I want to get into final at the Winter Olympics, just the way I did in Sochi in 2014, and once you are in the final, you strive to do your best, and anything can happen.