Park Seung-hi ‘Unlucky’ to win bronze medal
Tripped from behind, settles for her 3rd Olympic bronze medal
Women’s 500-meter short track skating final
By Jung Min-ho, Kwon Ji-youn
Park Seung-hi won a bronze medal in the women’s 500-meter final at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, Russia, Thursday, following one of the most chaotic moments in the Olympics so far.
Park collided with Britain’s Elise Christie and Italy’s Arianna Fontana early in the race as China’s Li Jianrou coasted to an uncontested gold. After the judges’ review, Park was awarded the bronze and Fontana the sliver with Christie penalized for causing the crash.
“(Christie) touched me in the back. I feel bad, but it’s over. I am glad that I won a medal” said Park, whose bronze was Korea’s second medal in this Olympics, following Lee Sang-hwa’s gold in the women’s 500-meter speed skating.
Park was the only Korean who managed to reach the final. Shim Suk-hee, Korea’s 16-year-old prodigy who was considered a contender for the gold, failed to reach the final after a disappointing performance in the quarterfinal.
It was the third-career Olympic bronze for Park, 24, who won the medals in the 1,000- and 1,500-meter events four years ago in Vancouver. Park will now prepare for the women’s 1,500-meter and 1,000-meter event.
Park’s bronze capped an eventful day for Korea’s short-track skating team. Sin Da-woon and Lee Han-bin qualified for the men’s 1,000-meter quarterfinal earlier in the day. Sin competed with Viktor Ahn, the former Korean Olympic great now representing his adopted homeland Russia, in heat seven and finished behind him with a time of one minute 25.893 seconds, 0.059 seconds slower than Ahn who clocked 1:25.834.
Lee also qualified for the quarterfinal, crossing the finish line first in his heat in 1:26.502, 0.454 seconds before Yuri Confortola of Italy. Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands and Tianyu Han of China also made it to the quarterfinals.
However, the men’s short-track relay team failed to qualify for the final when Lee Ho-suk lost his balance and took out an American skater with him.
Ahn led the Russian team to final A shortly after the Korean-U.S. crash, placing first in the second semifinal race in 6:44.331. Russia lingered near the back for the first half of the race, but a Canadian skater fell, yielding third place to Russia. Ahn geared up for his last-minute spurt and consequently Russia crossed the finish line 0.19 seconds before China. Both countries qualified for the final and they will join the Netherlands and Kazakhstan on Feb. 22 (KST).
Korea has been a traditional powerhouse in short-track skating, winning 19 gold medals from the 1992 Albertville Games to the 2010 Vancouver Games. However, the competition in Sochi has so far suggested that the Korean dominance in the sport is beginning to be replaced with international parity.