Speed skater Kristen Santos accomplishes what no U.S. woman had in a decade

2021/2022 ISU World Cup Short Track - Day 2
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Kristen Santos entered this short track speed skating season focused on making smart moves, as she told TeamUSA.org.

The 26-year-old was off to a fast start with accomplishing that goal as she earned two bronze medals at this weekend’s season-opening World Cup in Beijing.

The last time an American woman won two medals at a single World Cup – or even across a World Cup season – was in February 2012 when Lana Gehring won both the 1000 and 1500m races in the Dutch city of Dordrecht.

Held in the Capital Indoor Stadium, this season’s first World Cup competition also served as the Olympic test event for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. The results bode well for what Santos hopes will be her first Olympic appearance.

Santos has already been the top American this Olympic quadrennial – winning her first individual World Cup medal in November 2019, finishing fourth in the 500m at the 2021 World Championships and setting both the 1000m and 1500m American records – and further cemented herself in that position.

On Saturday, the first day of finals, Santos was second in both her 1500m quarterfinal and semifinal. Then she was third in the final, thousandths of a second from gold and silver.

Yubin Lee of Korea won in 2:21.833, with reigning overall world silver medalist Courtney Sarault of Canada crossing in 2:22.167 and Santos at 2:22.176.

Santos received a penalty in her 500m heat that day.

On Sunday, she won her 1000m quarterfinal, was second in the semifinal to reigning Olympic and two-time world champion Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands, then took bronze in the final behind Schulting and Korea’s Jiyoo Kim. Less than a second separated those three and Italy’s Arianna Fontana, an eight-time Olympic medalist.

Also Sunday, Santos was part of the women’s 3000m relay team that finished fifth with a B final win and set a new American record.

2018 Olympian Maame BineyJulie Letai, Santos and Corinne Stoddard lowered the record from 4:08.408, which had stood since 2016, to 4:08.014 in Saturday’s semifinals. In the B final, they broke that one by nearly three seconds, going 4:05.302.

That team is trying to qualify the U.S. for the Olympic women’s relay for the first time since 2010.

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