Snowboarder Lee Sang-ho knocked out of parallel giant slalom
PyeongChang Olympic silver medalist Lee Sang-ho left the Genting Snow Park P & X Stadium in Zhangjiakou empty-handed on Tuesday after losing his men's parallel giant slalom quarterfinal by just 0.01 seconds.
Lee, who was the first Korean to ever win an Olympic medal in a snow event and the first Asian to ever win in alpine snowboarding, started off strong on Tuesday, topping the table after the elimination round with a combined time of 1:20.54, a full 0.30 seconds ahead of any other other competitor.
In the round of eight, Lee took on Daniele Bagozza of Italy, winning the race by a comfortable 0.92 seconds.
Lee came up against much tougher competition in the quarterfinals, when he was drawn opposite two-time Olympic gold medalist Victor Wild of the Russian Olympic Committee. The two snowboarders were level-pegging throughout the race, with no visible space between them. It came down to a photo finish, where Lee turned out to be just 0.01 seconds behind Wild.
That tiny margin made Lee the fastest snowboarder not to progress to the semifinals by a significant margin.
The early exit comes as a big disappointment for Lee, who, as world No. 2 on the International Ski Federation World Cup ranking, was one of Korea's top medal prospects at the Games. As well as his earlier success at the PyeongChang Games, Lee was looking in good form ahead of the Beijing Olympics, winning bronze at an International Ski Federation Snowboard World Cup in Scuol, Swizerland in January.
In the women's parallel grand slalom, which also took place on Tuesday, Korea's Jeong Hae-rim narrowly missed out on a chance to progress, finishing in 18th place in the qualification round with a combined time of 1:29.10. With the top 16 athletes progressing to the round of eight, Jeong finished just 0.26 seconds outside of qualifying.
The Korean snowboarding team will be back in action on Wednesday, when Lee Na-yoon will try her hand at the wilder end of the sport as she competes in the women's halfpipe. The halfpipe will start with the qualification runs at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, with the final to be held at the same time on Thursday.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]