Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Sam Gaze crowned new short track world champions

American Gwendalyn Gibson wins bronze, and Chris Blevins crashes in the final lap trying to retain his title

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Pauline Ferrand-Prévot of France and Samuel Gaze of New Zealand are the new UCI short track world champions.

Alessandra Keller (SUI) and Gwendalyn Gibson (USA) rounded out the women’s podium, while Filippo Colombo and Thomas Litscher took home silver and bronze for Switzerland.

Related: Americans make history at Snowshoe mountain bike short track World Cup

It was a soggy and slippery day of racing in Les Gets, France, and the women bore the brunt of the conditions with the skies opening up in the middle of the race. Nevertheless, most of the nine laps played out relatively uneventfully.

Early on, a group of twelve riders broke away and stayed together until the seventh lap. Ferrand-Prévot stayed tucked safely in the group, keeping the wind off her face. Her tactics would prove worthwhile when she attacked in the seventh lap and never looked back.

“I’m super happy. I didn’t leave very quickly and I guarded to launch my attack. Afterwards, I managed to keep a good rhythm and it ended well,” Ferrand-Prévot said after the race.

Ferrand-Prévot is the second short track world champion, after Sina Frei won the inaugural race last year. However, the Frenchwoman is no stranger to the rainbow jersey.

World champion on the road in 2014 and in cyclocross in 2015, “PFP” also has three XCO mountain bike world champion titles to her name. A victory in Sunday’s XCO race would make Ferrand-Prévot the second woman after Norwegian rider Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå to win four cross-country world titles.

The U.S. had a strong showing in the women’s race, with Gibson’s bronze medal and Kate Courtney and Savilia Blunk riding into the top ten.

The men’s race, similar to the women’s, did not see a ton of action in the early laps. Slippery conditions demanded all of the riders’ focus, and a handful crashed early in the race. Gaze got caught behind one of the pileups during the first half of the race.

“I had to sort-of claw my way back,” he said. “I knew it would come to the last climb.”

In the 10th and final lap, Gaze attacked and American Christopher Blevins joined him. The two set a blistering pace and seemed set to sprint for the gold medal, but Blevins crashed on the final rock garden while trying to vie for the same line as Gaze.

Gaze rode across the line solo, and after the race acknowledged Blevins’ misfortune.

“Chris was super strong today, it was a bit of a mishap on that last corner,” he said. “But I’m super happy, super proud, to become an elite world champion is a dream come true.”

Women’s elite short track results

  1. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (FRA) – 21:56
  2. Alessandra Keller (SUI) – 22:14
  3. Gwendalyn Gibson (USA) – 22:17
  4. Jolanda Neff (SUI) – 22:23
  5. Evie Richards (GBR) – 22:26
  6. Greta Seiwald (ITA) – 22:33
  7. Annie Last (GBR) – 22:41
  8. Kate Courtney (USA) – 22:46
  9. Steffi Haberlin – 22:48
  10. Savilia Blunk (USA) – 22:50

Men’s elite short track results

  1. Sam Gaze (NZL) – 22:21
  2. Filippo Colombo (SUI) – 22:24
  3. Thomas Litscher (SUI) – 22:28
  4. Alan Hatherly (SAF) – 22:34
  5. Martins Blums (LAT) – 22:37
  6. Sebastian Carstensen (DEN) – 22:40
  7. Henrique Avancini (BRA) – 22:42
  8. Jonas Lindberg (DEN) – 22:44
  9. Daniele Braidot (ITA) – 22:46
  10. Maximilian Brandl (GER) – 22:47

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