Olympic speed skaters are off to a fast start
While its dominant short-track speed skating team was expected to reach the podium, Korea got a pleasant surprise from its longer track speed skating team.
In winning the silver medal in the 5,000-meter race at the Richmond Olympic Oval on Sunday, Lee Seung-hoon became only the third Korean skater ever to medal in speed skating and the first Asian skater to win a medal in a long-distance speed skating contest.
Sven Kramer of the Netherlands, who was ranked No. 1 in the world, cruised to a gold medal with a time of 6 minutes 14.60 seconds. Lee’s time was 6 minutes 16.95 seconds. Ivan Skobrev of Russia won the bronze with a time of 6 minutes 18.05 seconds.
“With the silver medal, I was able to get past all the hard work and emotional hardship I had to endure after making the switch last year [from short-track skating],” Lee said to Korean media after the race.
“It’s all a result of a tough training regimen. I also continued to train in the short track prior to coming to Vancouver. I was able to work on my cornering work and endurance through the short-track training.”
Lee, 21, was an accomplished short-track speed skater who made the switch to longer speed skating after failing to make the cut at the national tryouts in April of last year.
In the men’s 1,500-meter short track speed skating event at the Pacific Coliseum on Sunday, Korea entered three top medal prospects but came away with a gold after an unfortunate turn of events as two of them collided during the final lap of the race.
Lee Ho-suk and Sung Si-bak were the Olympic veterans but Lee Jung-su received the spotlight during qualifying rounds by setting two consecutive Olympic records.
Competing in his first Olympics, Lee Jung-su, 20, earned a gold with a time of 2 minutes 17.611 seconds.
Sung and Lee Ho-suk were second and third as they prepared to make the final turn but the two got tangled and wiped out, making way for Americans Apolo Anton Ohno and J.R. Celski to finish second and third respectively.
“Both skaters were medal prospects. However, short-track events are unpredictable and there are no guarantees. Both skaters congratulated me on the win despite missing out on winning medals,” said Lee Jung-su.
By Jason Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]