Nat's the way, aha, aha, we like it! Our Natalia is World Cup CHAMP

Ice queen: Natalia Maliszewska on her way to winning the World Cup title. Paweł Skraba/PAP

Short-track speed skater Natalia Maliszewska can add the World Cup trophy to her European title over 500 metres after finishing the most successful season of her career and, perhaps, the entire history of Polish short-track skating.

Maliszewska won silver at an event in Turin on Saturday, which was enough to ensure the 23-year-old from Białstok lifted the World Cup title for the 2018/2019 season.

The ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Turin was the final competition of the World Cup season, and the one that decided this year’s winners and losers. 

Tensions were running high ahead of Maliszewska’s season-defining race owing to a succession of falling skaters leading to it being re-started three times.

“After the race, I didn’t even have the strength to shout for joy,” she said after her title-winning performance. “The race was very exciting, it lasted a long time and tired me out a lot.

Maliszewska with her coaches Urszula Kamińska and Gregory Durand.Paweł Skraba/PAP

"Maybe it still hasn’t hit me, that I'm the fastest, because it's something that is happening right now. Maybe when I sit down and breathe, I will say: ‘Kurczaku [Maliszewska’s childhood nickname, meaning chick or chicken– TFN], you've done a good job’."

Smile when you’re winning: The 24-year-old also made history in March last year when she won silver in the world championships .Instagram

The skater has little time to celebrate with the architects of her success, trainers Urszula Kamińska and Gregory Durand. The World Championships in Bulgaria start on March 8, but she added that, given her location, she might have a celebratory pizza.

"We are in Italy, there’s great pizza here, so maybe a little margarita will fly in. I think I earned it,” she said. “Today [Saturday] is the world pizza day, making it two holidays in one." 

 The Białystok skater shows off her gold medal.Piotr Nowak/PAP

Natalia, who has been competing in short-track skating since 2007 alongside her older sister Patrycja, began her winning streak this season by winning the World Cup event in Calgary, and then went on to not only dominate the general classification, but also win the European Championship in Dordrecht.

The skater is the first Pole to triumph in the short-track World Cup, and also becomes only the fifth Polish athlete to win a World Cup in winter sports. Previous title holders were ski jumpers Adam Małysz and Kamil Stoch, cross-country skier Justyna Kowalczyk and long-track skater Zbigniew Bródka. 

UPDATE: The celebration of Natalia Maliszewska’s World Cup short track championship might have been premature, but after the last race on Sunday in Turin she can be sure that the 2018/2019 trophy is rightfully hers. As we reported on Sunday morning, second place in the first competition of the Turin World Cup event was supposed to secure her win in the overall ranking, yet after a recounting of points and going through the regulations Natalia found out that the victory wasn’t yet hers.   

The unexpected confusion might have impacted the speed skaters form during the last competition, as for the first time this season she didn’t qualify for the finals. Fortunately finishing tenth was enough, since Natalia’s biggest rival Lara van Ruijven from the Netherlands dropped in the semi-finals as well.