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Short track season starts with changes at the top

Short Track Speedskating

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Suzanne Schulting (1) of Netherlands, South Korean Choi Minjeong (40) and Italian Arianna Fontana (3) in action during the Women’s 1500m quarterfinals of the Short Track Speed Skating events at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games, Beijing, China, 16 February 2022. (Photo by Nikolay Muratkin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The short track speed skating World Cup season begins this weekend without the three women who combined to win every individual gold and silver medal at last year’s Olympics.

Italian Arianna Fontana, Dutchwoman Suzanne Schulting and South Korean Choi Min-Jeong are not participating in the opening World Cup in Montreal, according to the International Skating Union.

Peacock live streams the World Cup season starting Saturday.

Fontana, who has a record 11 Olympic short track medals, last competed on the top international level at the 2022 Winter Games.

Fontana, 33, posted in June that she has been waiting for the results of an investigation after she said last year that two male Italian teammates skated dangerously in an attempt to cause her to fall in practice. At least one of the men denied it, according to Italian media.

Fontana posted this week that she will not compete until the investigation is resolved. Come 2026, she could compete at a second home Olympics after making her debut at the 2006 Torino Games at age 15.

Schulting, the world’s top skater over the past five years, took an extended offseason and had her first intense on-ice practice on Wednesday, according to her Instagram.

The 26-year-old said her focus is on competing in March’s world championships in the Netherlands, though she may return before that for the European Championships in January, according to Dutch media.

Choi, the two-time reigning Olympic 1500m gold medalist, did not race in the South Korean national team trials in April and is focusing on training rather than competition this season, according to Yonhap News Agency.

In their absences, the top skater is 22-year-old Dutchwoman Xandra Velzeboer, the reigning world champion at 500m and 1000m.

Also back is the world’s top man, 27-year-old South Korean Park Ji-Won, who won world titles at 1000m and 1500m.

Brothers Liu Shaolin Sandor and Liu Shaoang, Olympic gold medalists for Hungary, are expected to return this fall after sitting out last season while changing nationality to China, where their father was born.

Wu Dajing, the 2018 Olympic 500m champion and world record holder, reportedly did not make the Chinese national team.

The U.S. national team is led by Kristen Santos-Griswold, who was fourth in the 1000m at last year’s Olympics, and Corinne Stoddard, who was fifth in the 500m at last season’s worlds.