Speed skater secures spot on Team USA


Matt Silverman

The air is cool, almost cold against her skin. Leaning over slightly, she readies herself for the race to begin. Beside her three other girls do the same. Butterflies run rampant in her stomach. The stakes are high, but she refuses to think about that. Thinking about what could happen if she won would not ensure that she actually wins. The signal is given. All four girls take off.
The U.S. Short Track Junior Championships, held in Kearns, Utah, concluded on Dec. 16, with senior Gabriella Hachem winning the title of 2016-2017 Ladies Junior National Champion.
Over 50 skaters, all under the age of 19, turned up for the two-day event, each of them competing for one of the eight spots (four female and four male) on the Junior Short Track World Championship Team. This team will continue on to represent Team USA in the World Junior Championships, which is taking place from Jan. 27-29 in Innsbruck, Austria.
Hachem placed second for the women’s 100 meter race, 1500 meter and 1500 meter super final. She came in first for the women’s 500-meter race, thereby securing her place at the top.
“When I won it was kind of surreal,” Hachem said. “Me and the three other girls in the tight four always have a really tight competition. To have won against such amazing skaters made me realize a lot. It felt amazing to see every struggle and all the pain I’ve gone through pay off. Now I can look back on every time I doubted myself and on every hard practice and know that in the end, every struggle I’ve gone through has been so worth it.”
Some of these struggles include balancing her skating career with school work, college applications, family and friends.
On Jan 6-8, Hachem participated in the Senior National Championships, a competition for skaters over the age of 14 who have qualifying times. The competition allows skaters to compare themselves with all other skaters in the nation. Hachem placed third in this competition, indicating that she is the third fastest junior speed skater in the US.
Hachem’s new win puts her on the Senior World Team, which will be going to more competitions than the Junior World Team, including the Senior World Championships, which will take place in Germany after the Junior World Championships, and another worldwide competition in March.
Hachem has won previous titles and awards for her skill, including winning the 2013 and 2015 Age Group Nationals, and setting a record in the 1500-meter race at Nationals in 2015. At the 2015-2016 U.S. Short Track Junior Championship Hachem was the runner up and went to Sofia, Bulgaria, with the team.


Shelby Ting

Front Page Editor