Short Track Redemption

February 18, 2014

Women’s 3,000m relay team wins the first short-track gold in Sochi for S. Korea

Shim Suk-Hee of South Korea, centre, celebrates her team's first place in the women's 3000m short track speedskating relay final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip )

Shim Suk-Hee of South Korea, centre, celebrates her team’s first place in the women’s 3000m short track speedskating relay final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip )

The South Korean team, centre, celebrate on the podium during the flower ceremony for the women's 3000m short track speedskating relay final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The South Korean team, centre, celebrate on the podium during the flower ceremony for the women’s 3000m short track speedskating relay final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

(Yonhap) — With three laps to go in the women’s 3,000-meter short track relay on Tuesday, South Korea trailed China by a substantial margin and seemed headed toward an inevitable second place.

That’s when Shim Suk-hee went to work. With a breathtaking finish, South Korea captured the gold medal in the women’s 3,000-meter relay short track at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Tuesday.

The team of Cho Ha-ri, Kim A-lang, Park Seung-hi and Shim Suk-hee claimed South Korea’s first short track gold medal in Sochi, and its second gold overall. They finished the 27-lap race in 4:09.498.

Canada took the silver in 4:10.641 and Italy earned the bronze in 4:14.014. China finished the relay in second place, but received a penalty for interference.

South Korea opened the race in the lead, and stayed in front over the first 10 laps. China then took over, and South Korea fell to third behind China and Canada with 13 laps remaining. Kim then made a move to take second place behind China, and Park reclaimed the lead for South Korea with nine laps left.

Cho opened some distance with six laps remaining, but China wouldn’t go away. With three laps left, Fan Kexin charged out in the lead and China stayed there.

South Korea looked destined for second place, but Shim overtook Li Jianrou, the 500m gold medalist last week, in the final lap for the gold medal.

The victory on Tuesday represents a measure of redemption for South Korea. The country won four straight women’s relay gold medals starting in 1994, but the streak ended unceremoniously in 2010 with a controversial disqualification ruling in the final.

The quartet of Cho Ha-ri, Park Seung-hi, Kim Min-jung and Lee Eun-byul finished the race first, in what would have been a world record time, but was stripped of the medal for impeding a Chinese skater during the race. China got the gold instead.

South Korea has now won 20 gold medals in short track since it became a medal sport in 1992, more than any other nation. It is the only country to have won at least one short track gold at every Olympics.

Earlier on Tuesday, Park Seung-hi, Shim Suk-hee and Kim A-lang each cruised to the quarterfinals in the women’s 1,000m. The quarterfinals, the semifinals and the finals will all take place on Friday.

In the men’s competition, Park Se-yeong and Lee Han-bin advanced to the quarters in the 500m. Their quarterfinals, the semifinals and the finals are also scheduled for Friday.

Viktor Ahn of Russia also made it out of the men’s heats and remained on course to win his third medal in Sochi. Born Ahn Hyun-soo in South Korea, he won three Olympic gold medals for his native country in 2006, but became a Russian citizen in 2011. He’d earlier won the gold in the 1,000m, Russia’s first Olympic short track title, and the bronze in the 1,500m.

With four career gold medals, Ahn is the most decorated male short tracker in Olympic history.

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