After just missing out on the Olympics four years ago, Kristen Santos entered the 2022 Winter Games on a mission.
"I don’t want to just go to the Olympics to go to the Olympics," Santos said on NBC’s “On Her Turf” podcast. "I want to go and I want to be a competitor there. I want to make a difference. I want to be in the mix of things and I want to medal.”
The Connecticut native was in the mix Friday during the women's 1000m short track until a late crash cost her a chance at the podium. Sitting in third with two laps remaining, Santos was brought down while trying to move inside by Italy's 10-time medalist Arianna Fontana, who was penalized for a lane change causing contact.
That ended the 1000m medal hopes for Santos, whose journey to the Olympics included a heartbreaking near miss in 2018. Just weeks following surgery on her hand and wrist after being sliced by an opposing skater's blade, Santos fell one spot short of an Olympic bid after finishing fourth overall in qualifiers.
“Four years ago, just missing the team really made me change that goal and dream from being an Olympian to being an Olympic medalist, being a contender at the Olympics,” Santos said on the “On Her Turf” podcast. “Because right then and there, I had realized, even if I made the team, the way I was skating at that moment, I wasn’t going to make a difference at the Games. I wasn’t going to win.
“But that pushed me so much further these past four years to know that that’s what I really want."
Santos passed her opponents on the outside in her earlier heats, cruising in Quarterfinal 4 with a time of 1:28.393 and finishing with the top semifinal time of 1.26.783.
She was in the process of making her final push in the medal round before the crash that cost her a chance at being on the podium. A crash also cost Santos earlier in the week in the 500m quarterfinals when she was eliminated after being penalized on a passing move. Santos' next opportunity to medal will be in the 1500m on Wednesday, beginning at 6:30 a.m. ET.
The Netherlands' Suzanne Schulting went on to win her second-straight gold with a time of 1:28.391.
Korea's Choi Min-Jeong took silver and Belgium's Hanne Desmet won bronze.