2 Olympic short track medals to be awarded
Feb. 15, 2014
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — After two days off, short track resumes Saturday with medals awarded in the women's 1,500 meters and the men's 1,000.
Expect plenty of thrilling pack skating, with the sport's traditional big four countries of Canada, China, South Korea and the United States trying to pile up medals on day three of Olympic competition.
Here are five things to watch for at Iceberg Skating Palace:
WOMEN'S 1,500: China's Zhou Yang is the defending champion, although she was seventh at last year's world championships and is ranked second in the world. Her biggest challenger is likely Park Seung-hi of South Korea, the bronze medalist in Vancouver four years ago. Park is a two-time world champion. Another South Korean, Shim Suk-hee, could be the second 17-year-old to win a short track medal. Han Tianyu of China took silver in the men's 1,500. If Zhou falters, her teammates Li Jianrou and Liu Quihong could snag a spot on the podium.
TACTICS: The 1,500 involves varying tactics. Some skaters will try to win from the front, keeping speeds up while trying to wear out their trailing rivals. Others will conserve energy early and stay back in the pack before making their move late in the 13½-lap race.
MEN'S 1,000: Russia's Viktor Ahn tries to win a second short track medal for his adopted country. The former South Korean citizen earned a bronze — Russia's first in the chaotic sport — in the 1,500. Charles Hamelin of Canada, the 1,500 champion, is back at the shorter distance.
TOUGH HEATS: The four quarterfinal heats of the men's 1,000 feature tough matchups. Eddy Alvarez of Miami, Fla., will be up against Ahn and Hamelin in his heat. J.R. Celski of Federal Way, Wash., goes against Sin Da-woon of South Korea and Olivier Jean of Canada in his heat. "I have prepared well for this, and I'm ready," Celski said. Only the top two skaters in each heat advance to the semis later Saturday.
BOUNCING BACK: Traditional short track power South Korea will try to bounce back. Park Seung-hi earned a bronze in the 500 after she fell and got up when a crash downed two other skaters in the final. The men's team was eliminated in the 5,000 relay semifinals after a crash involving Lee Ho-suk and Alvarez. After several anxious moments, the referees advanced the U.S. and penalized the Koreans. In the men's 1,000, the Koreans have just two skaters in Lee Han-bin and Sin. The Korean women have three qualifiers in the women's 1,500: Shim Suk-hee, Cho Ha-ri and Kim Alang.