American Chloe Woodruff scored a dramatic solo victory during Friday’s second round of the UCI Short Track Cross-country series, held in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. The victory marks Woodruff’s first win in a World Cup cross-country race, and the second-consecutive World Cup short track win by an American woman.
“This is pretty big,” said Woodruff, who rode for the U.S. national team at the event. “It means a lot, and I was definitely inspired by Kate last weekend. I’ve had a ton of support from home. I’ve been racing short track a long time. I love it.”
Woodruff attacked on the seventh of nine laps around the short off-road circuit in Nove Mesto. The lap included log drops, a section of jumps, and a short climb and descent. After Woodruff attacked, the group of women appeared to hesitate, before mounting a chase several seconds later. The gap was all Woodruff needed, and she maintained it for the next two laps, winning by a handful of seconds.
“I knew my best bet was to go early,” Woodruff said. “I checked back to make sure no one was chasing, and then was like, ‘OK, all in.'”
Woodruff’s victory comes as the U.S. women start their yearlong chase for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The American woman are looking to accumulate as many UCI cross-country points as possible this year in hopes of securing the maximum three spots for the Tokyo games. Short track results do award UCI points that count toward each nation’s rankings in the World Cup standings—the metric that the UCI uses to award starting places for the Olympics.
There are considerably fewer points on offer at short-track events when compared to cross-country World Cup races, however each point does count in the American chase for the Olympic spots. And, the victory is a sign that Woodruff is hitting her form just as the World Cup season gets underway.
Last week Woodruff finished 6th place in the cross-country World Cup in Albstadt, 2:57 behind Courtney, who took the first American World Cup victory in 20 years.