SPORTS

[PyeongChang 2018] Short track calamities cost Korea

By Joel Lee
  • Published : Feb 22, 2018 - 22:09
  • Updated : Feb 22, 2018 - 22:09

GANGNEUNG, Gangwon Province -- South Korea had golden expectations going into Thursday evening’s short track speedskating events, but fell short despite earning two medals.

The host country won silver and bronze medals in the men’s 500-meter Olympic final in Gangneung, Gangwon Province.

China’s Wu Dajing, who had already set a world record in the heats the same evening, broke it again with a 39.584-second time to take gold, China’s first short track medal in this Olympics and its first gold of the games.

Hwang Dae-heon won silver in 39.854 seconds, while Lim Hyo-jun -- a PyeongChang gold medalist in the 1,500 -- won bronze with a time of 39.919 seconds.

Seo Yi-ra, who won bronze in the 1,000, clashed with China’s Han Tianyu and fell in the quarterfinals. 

Korean short track speedskater Hwang Dae-heon competes in the final of the men’s 500 meters at the PyeongChang Olympics. (Yonhap)

Later, in the women’s short track 1000 final, the Netherlands’ Suzanne Schulting finished first. The silver went to Canada’s Kim Boutin, and bronze to Italy’s Arianna Fontana.

South Korean medal hopefuls Choi Min-jeong -- already a gold medalist in the women’s 1,500 meters and 3,000 relay -- and Shim Suk-hee -- a world recorder holder in the 1,000 and another relay gold medalist -- clashed with each other and fell, dropping out of contention.

“We had tried our best in training and preparing for the Olympics. Many things happened in our preparations and we learned a great deal,” said Shim following the final, with tears welling up in her eyes. “I want to thank my family, who have always supported me through thick and thin. I also want to thank fellow South Koreans for giving their support and loving short track speedskating.”

Korean short track speedskaters, Shim Suk-hee (right) and Choi Min-jeong (second from right), bumped each other and fell together in the race of the women’s 1,000 meters at the Pyeongchang Olympics. (Yonhap)


In the men’s 5000 relay final -- the last short track event of the Olympics -- the South Korean team raced against Hungarian, Chinese and Canadian teams. Lim Hyo-jun fell before the 21st lap, with the remaining skaters not letting up.

Hungary, featuring Shaoang Liu, Shaolin Sandor Liu, Viktor Knoch and Csaba Burjan, won gold, while China took silver and Canada bronze. 

Earlier in the day, in a blockbuster final featuring the game’s two superpowers, the United States women’s hockey team triumphed over Canada in a tension-filled match.

The Americans snatched the gold medal with a dramatic 3-2 penalty shootout win over four-time defending champion Canada at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province. The win ended a 20-year drought for the US for women’s Olympic gold, as well as Canada’s 24-match winning streak at the Winter Games.

As of Thursday 6:00 p.m., Norway led the overall competition with a staggering 13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze, followed by Germany with 12 gold, seven silver and five bronze and Canada with nine gold, six silver and seven bronze. The United States is in fourth with eight gold, seven silver and six bronze, with the Netherlands in fifth with six gold, six silver and four bronze. South Korea is No. 9 with four gold, three silver and two bronze.

In the alpine skiing men’s slalom event Thursday, Sweden’s Andre Myhrer won gold, followed by Switzerland’s Ramon Zenhaeusern and Austria’s Michael Matt. In the women’s alpine combined slalom, Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin grabbed gold, while the US’ Mikaela Shiffrin took silver and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener took bronze. 

In the women’s big air snowboarding on Thursday, which made its Olympic debut at PyeongChang, Austrian Anna Gasser edged American two-time gold medalist Jamie Anderson in a thrilling final to earn the gold. Zoi Sadowski Synnott grabbed bronze to give New Zealand its first Winter Olympic medal in 26 years.

In the men’s ski halfpipe Thursday, defending champion David Wise of the US broke through on his final run to give his country its third gold in the halfpipe at PyeongChang. Fellow American Alex Ferreira took silver, while Nico Porteus of New Zealand doubled the country’s medal haul with a bronze.

Wise’s medal was the US’ seventh gold at PyeongChang, five of which had come at Phoenix Snow Park. Chloe Kim and Shaun White clinched snowboard halfpipe golds last week, alongside Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson in the snowboard slopestyle.

The South Korean women’s curling team, which stirred a sensation at PyeongChang with its assertive wins in the round robin, will compete in the semifinals Friday. The all-Kim team of Kim Yeong-mi, Kim Kyeong-ae, Kim Eun-jung, Kim Seon-yeong and alternate Kim Cho-hi will face Japan at Gangneung Curling Centre at 8 p.m. A win guarantees at least a silver.

The other semifinalists are the Swedish and British teams.

In the much-anticipated men’s hockey, two-time defending champion Canada has advanced to the semifinals, along with the Russians. They will be joined by the Czech Republic and Germany, who surprised the US in a 3-2 shootout and top-seeded Sweden with a 4-3 in overtime, respectively. Canada beat Finland 1-0 on Wednesday night, but lost starting goaltender Ben Scrivens to an undisclosed upper-body injury. The Russians beat the Norwegians 6-1 the same day.

The Czech Republic will face the Russian team at 4:40 p.m. on Friday, while Canada will square off against Germany at 9:10 p.m. later in the day.

In the men’s speedskating team pursuit event Wednesday evening, South Korea’s trio said the bond between the teammates was the secret to their success, as they captured the country’s second consecutive Olympic medal in the discipline. 

The trio of Lee Seung-hoon, Kim Min-seok and Chung Jae-won greet at the awards ceremony after winning silver in men's team pursuit speed skating in the PyeongChang Winter Games. (Yonhap)

“I believe South Korea has the best teamwork in the world,” Kim Min-seok, a two-time medalist in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, said after winning silver in the men’s pursuit on Wednesday. “(If we are to learn from Norway), I think it is important to improve our individual capabilities.”

South Korea countered Norway in the final and fell 1.2 seconds short of winning gold during the competition at the Gangneung Oval in the subhost city of Gangneung, around 240 kilometers east of Seoul.

The trio of Lee Seung-hoon, Kim Min-seok and Chung Jae-won clocked in at 3:38.52 in the eight-lap race, finishing 1.2 seconds behind the Norwegian team at Gangneung Oval in Gangwon Province.

The bronze went to the Netherlands, which beat New Zealand with a time of 3:38.4.

The title earned 29-year-old Lee his fourth Olympic medal -- one gold and three silver -- in speedskating, making him the first Asian male skater to clinch Olympic medals at three straight games, dating to Vancouver 2010.

“I’ve come this far because my two teammates have supported me from behind,” said Chung, 16, following the race.

On Saturday, Lee and Chung will compete in the men’s mass start, which made its debut at PyeongChang.

In the women’s speedskating team pursuit on the same day, Japan beat the Netherlands for gold. The bronze went to the United States.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)