The final national titles were awarded Sunday at the United States short-track speed skating championships in Kearns, Utah, and a pair of skaters with Maryland ties ended the weekend with some hardware.
The event served as a team selection for the Winter World Cup and Junior World Teams.
The men’s 1000-meter A Final turned into a brawl Sunday, with skaters vying for spots that left 2018 Olympians Aaron Tran and Ryan Pivirotto disqualified. Olympian Thomas Hong, a Laurel native, skated to his second national title of the weekend, taking the 1000, followed by junior skaters Andrew Heo and Brandon Kim.
In the 500 A Final on Saturday, Hong edged out Kim and Tran for the national title. Pivirotto made a last-minute, come-from-behind move to edge out Hong for first place in the 1,500.
“I had lane two at the start of the 500, so I tried my best to have a fast start and put myself in a position to make a pass,” Hong said Saturday. “I stayed patient, which is something I haven’t done well this season, and made a pass that allowed me to finish strong in the race.”
An Atholton graduate and University of Maryland student, Hong and the U.S. men’s 5,000 relay team won the B final in 2018 to finish fifth overall at the Pyeongchang Games. It was the final event of the games for Hong, who was born in Seoul. Hong, whose family immigrated from South Korea to Howard County in 2001 and settled in Laurel, failed to qualify for the 500 in Pyeongchang with a third-place finish in qualifying Feb. 20.
After two silver-medal finishes this weekend, Kristen Santos skated to the top of the podium in the ladies 1000 meters Sunday. In a fast and physical race, Santos jumped to the front after Olympian Maame Biney of Reston, Virginia, and Corinne Stoddard jostled for position. Biney was penalized, leaving Stoddard to finish second with Hailey Choi of Oakton, Virginia, coming in third.
Biney won national titles in the 500 and 1,500 on Saturday.
“I’m very surprised for sure,” Biney said Saturday. “I was not expecting the 1,500 to go the way it did. I’m happy with my 500 and happy with my 1,500, so [Sunday] I’m just going to chill. I’ve already made the [world championship] team and that’s what the goal was.”
Biney, a native of Accra, Ghana’s capital, moved into her father’s Rockville home at age 5 before relocating to her current residence of Reston. She became the second African-born athlete to represent the U.S. at the Winter Olympics, but did not advance past her qualifying heat in the 1500 and was ousted from the 500 in the quarterfinals at the Pyeongchang Games.