Teen Wolf

February 14, 2014

17-year-old Shim Suk-hee growling for gold in Sochi 

Out for redemption in ladies’ 1,500m short-track skating 

Shim Suk-hee came into this Olympic as one of the favorites to win gold-medal. (Yonhap)

Shim Suk-hee came into this Olympic as one of the favorites to win gold-medal. (Yonhap)

By Kwon Ji-youn

Korean short-track speed skaters have struggled during the first week of the Sochi Olympic Games, suffering from crashes and losing medal-winning chances in the men’s 5,000-meter relay and other events.

Saturday, Shim Suk-hee will attempt to redeem herself by winning gold in the ladies’ 1,500-meter event after failing to qualify for the 500-meter semifinal.

Shim, who is considered a contender for the gold in the 1,500 meters, won three gold medals and one silver in the event during the 2013-14 International Skating Union (ISU) Short-track Speed Skating World Cup. She also snatched three golds in the 1,000 meters.

The 17-year-old, who stands 173cm tall, is known for her speed and stamina over longer distances, and hopes to pull off a triple crown in the 1,000 meters, 1,500 meters and the 3,000-meter relay.

In the relay semifinal, Shim and her teammates Cho Ha-ri, Kong Sang-jeong and Park crossed the finish line first in their heat, clocking four minutes and 8.052 seconds, 0.819 seconds faster than the Canadian team.

But Shim is focusing on doing her best, not on topping the podium.

“I keep telling myself, ‘the Winter Games is no different from any other international event,’” Shim said before the Olympics began. “I think a gold medal is granted to those who deserve it. I will focus on doing my best.”

The ladies’ 1,500-meter, in which Kim A-lang and Cho will also compete, will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday (KST).

Korean male short-trackers will also aim for a medal in the 1,000-meter event today. Both Sin Da-woon and Lee Han-bin qualified for the quarterfinal after finishing second and first correspondingly in their respective heats. Sin was assigned to heat seven with Russian sensation Viktor Ahn, and completed the race in 1:25.893, 0.059 seconds behind Ahn, who clocked 1:25.834 and came in first. Lee crossed the finish line first in his heat in 1:26.502, 0.454 seconds ahead of Yuri Confortola of Italy.

The 1,000 meters is not Sin’s favorite race, but he seems prepared to give it his best. He placed first in the event — and in the 1,500-meter event — at the World Short-track Speed Skating Championships in 2013. Kim Yun-jae won the silver and Charles Hamelin of Canada snagged the bronze.

The quarterfinal will take place at 7:43 p.m. and the semifinal at 8:43 p.m. The final is scheduled for 9:20 p.m.

If any medals come, they will be added to the one Park Seung-hi won in the ladies’ 500-meter event after a judges’ review at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

In the men’s 1,500-meter semifinal, Sin Da-woon crashed and took out his compatriot Lee Han-bin with him.

After deliberation, Lee advanced to the final, but placed sixth in a field of seven. In the men’s 5,000-meter relay, Lee Ho-suk lost his balance and fell, taking a U.S. skater with him.

This was his second fall, after crashing at the 2010 Vancouver Games in the 1,500 meters. The team failed to qualify for the final for the first time in 12 years.