SALT LAKE CITY – Everything you need to know about Corinne Stoddard’s physical and mental fortitude as a short track speed skater can be gleaned in a telling anecdote from the Beijing Olympics in February.
Making her Olympic debut on the just the second day of the Games in the women’s 500m heats, Stoddard slipped coming around a corner and shot feet-first into the padding. The blow pushed her right knee up to her face, where her nose suffered a direct blow.
“I literally broke myself,” the 21-year-old says with a laugh, telling On Her Turf that she’s suffered far more severe injuries during her days as an inline skater. “I’ve had worse injuries in inline because it’s like — you fall on the concrete, so your skin gets torn off and stuff, and you still have to race the next race like that.
“I think inline really helped me to not surrender to small injuries. I guess if I was to break any bone at the Olympics, it would be my nose because I can still skate with a broken nose.”
And skate she did, less than two hours later when she was included in the semifinal leg of the four-person U.S. mixed relay team. X-rays confirmed later that day that Stoddard had in fact broken her nose and required surgery, but she proceeded to compete the next two weeks with her nose askew. She slapped on a bandage and notched three top 10s, finishing seventh in the 1000m, eighth in the 3000m relay and eighth in the mixed team relay.
“They couldn’t reset it there because I’d have to go to the hospital, and if I went to the hospital then would break the quarantine, and then I would not be able to race,” recalls Stoddard, who’ll compete in the 1500m, 500m and 1000m at the ISU Four Continents Short Track Championships this Friday and Saturday in Salt Lake City. “So I just left it where it was and raced the rest of the days with it just broken and towards the side. And one of my nostrils — I couldn’t breathe through it.”
“It’s hilarious because off the ice, she’s the goofiest girl you’ve ever met,” says teammate and fellow Beijing Olympian Julie Letai ahead of last week’s short track World Cup in Salt Lake City. “She’s just so funny, and she’ll do anything just to make you laugh or make you feel better. …
“Then on the ice, she’s really intense. She knows what she wants; she’s serious about her goals. And you can see in her racing, she knows how to just turn it on, even if she’s nervous before a race. Once she gets onto the line, she’s racing confidently, and I think it’s really inspiring to see someone who can play both sides of the coin.”
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In turn, Stoddard is also a student of her fellow teammates, particularly veteran Kristen Santos-Griswold, whom she considers one of her best friends.
“It’s been really nice because she’s a better skater than me right now,” Stoddard explains. “I can look up to her and see what she’s doing on the ice and try to do the same as her, work just as hard as her. Because I can see what she’s accomplishing and know that I can do it, too, if I put the work in like she does.”
“Corie is such a racer,” says Santos-Griswold, who’s also competing this weekend. “Not only does she train hard, but going beyond that, in her racing, she knows how to step it up and be competitive, and she gets the right mindset going.”
Stoddard’s passion for skating started as a young girl in Seattle, Washington, where her grade-school PE class included roller skating. She was hooked. She begged her parents daily to take her roller skating after school, and she eventually caught the eye of the rink owner, who suggested she might like in-line skating. She was just 6 when she started competing and 12 when her mother suggested she also learned to ice skate, knowing that inline was not in the Olympics – but speed skating was.
She quickly moved up through the junior ranks and was just 17 when she moved to Utah to train with the national team full time. Her breakthrough came at the 2020 World Junior Championships, where she captured silver in the 1000m and bronze in the 500m. She made her World Cup debut that same season and earned her first medal – a bronze in the 3000m relay at the Shanghai World Cup.
Stoddard is off to hot start in the 2022-23 season. Last week at the World Cup’s first stop in Montreal, Canada, she qualified for her first A Final and finished fourth, marking a new personal best. She also made the B Final in the 500m and says she feels the confidence building.
“It means that I’m getting closer to my goals and also improving, which is a good sign,” says Stoddard. “Seeing the improvements and knowing that I’m right there with the top girls. Hopefully just a little bit longer and I can, like, start beating them.”
How to watch the ISU Four Continents Short Track World Championships
Competition in Salt Lake City runs from 6-10 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday and streams live on Peacock.