Koreans ace short-track competitionSouth Korea demonstrated once again that it is the country to beat in short track skating in its appearance at the 22nd Winter Universiade, which ended Sunday. It finished second in the medal rankings at the event in Innsbruck, Austria, winning all 10 gold medals available in the sport.
Koreans swept the women’s and men’s 3,000-meter (914 feet) individuals, as well as the men’s 5,000-meter and women’s 3,000-meter relays held on the last day. Reigning world champion Choi Eun-kyung won a total of five gold medals, in the women’s 500-meter, 1,000-meter, 1,500-meter and 3,000-meter individuals and 3,000-meter relay.
On the men’s side, world champion Ahn Hyun-soo won three gold medals, in the men’s 1,500-meter and 3,000-meter individuals and the men’s 5,000-meter relay, as well as a bronze in the men’s 1,000-meter. Ahn won all possible gold medals in the World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in China last October.
Korea won 10 gold, seven silver and six bronze medals; overall first place winner Austria took 10 golds, eight silvers and three bronzes. Russia came in third with eight golds.
Prior to the games, there were concerns over Choi’s performance because she was suffering from back injuries and her coach had been replaced after last year’s corporal punishment scandal. Choi and other skaters alleged that they were beaten by their previous coaches.
After the coach was changed, Choi endured hard training and improved her record. New coach Park Se-u’s strategy was for Choi to take the lead on the outside track in the latter half of the race.
Korea won a record 23 medals at the Universiade, but except for two bronze medals in speed skating, all medals were in short track.
Although Korea did not win any medals in ski jumping, the country has high hopes for the sport as Kim Hyun-ki placed sixth in K-120 and K-90 individual ski jumping and group competition.
The next Winter Universiade will be held in Torino, Italy in 2007.
by Hur Jin-seok, Limb Jae-un