Kristen Santos found herself exactly where she wanted to be Friday, contending for Olympic gold in the women’s short track speed skating 1000m final.
After just missing out on making Team USA in 2018, hampered by a gruesome hand injury but bolstered by her own resilience, Santos changed her goal from making the U.S. Olympic Team to winning an Olympic medal.
Santos was this close at the 2022 Winter Olympics in one of her marquee events when a late crash ended her bid for a podium. Skating in third with two laps remaining, she went down while trying to move inside on 10-time medalist Arianna Fontana of Italy. Fontana was penalized for a lane change causing contact.
The 27-year-old Santos, from Fairfield, Conn., was both gracious and pragmatic in her post-race interviews, noting, “That’s part of the sport.”
“I’ve been penalized more times than I can count,” Santos said afterward via New York Times reporter Kevin Draper. “I can’t be mad at anyone for that. We’re all going out there and trying our hardest, no one is trying to get disqualified, no one’s trying to mess anyone else up, we’re just trying to do the best we possibly can.”
And she followed up with nothing but respect for Fontana, adding, “She is the nicest person in the entire world. She’s someone that I look up to every single day and she impresses me, so no bad blood there.”
But Santos is still motivated, posting on Instagram a photo of herself wearing her U.S. Olympic short track competition uniform and an ear-to-ear smile.
“Not gunna lie, being in medal position going into the last lap and crashing is absolutely heartbreaking, especially when you know you had more to give,” she wrote. “And while [fourth] place hurts, I’m trying to channel this girl right here who knows she’s strong and has all the power in the world to medal in her next race.”
ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Partners in life, rivals in sliding – Meet two skeleton athletes who are dating
Netherlands’ Suzanne Schulting, who set a world and Olympic record in the quarterfinals, won her second consecutive gold with a time of 1:28.391. South Korea’s Choi Min-Jeong (1:28.443) won silver, and Belgium’s Hanne Desmet took bronze (1:28.928).
Santos finished fourth at 1:42.745, while Fontana was assessed a penalty.
But that’s not the end of Santos’ Olympic journey: She still has the 1500m, an event she finished third in at a World Cup at the start of the season, plus the team relay.
“I just kind of have to move forward,” said Santos, who won her first World Cup in the 1000m in Nagoya, Japan, in October. “I still have the 1500m – I know that I can be on that podium.”
2022 Winter Olympics: Women’s Short-Track Speed Skating – Remaining Events
|Short-Track Speed Skating||Date / Start Time (U.S. Eastern)||Date / Start Time (Beijing)|
|Women’s Relay (Final)||2/13/22 6:00 AM||2/13/22 7:00 PM|
|Women’s 1500m (Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Final)||2/16/22 6:30 AM||2/16/22 7:30 PM|