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Relay gold eases pain for S. Korea Bergsma leads Dutch 10,000m sweep

SOCHI, Russia, Feb 18, (RTRS): South Korea grabbed gold in the women’s short track speed skating 3,000 metres relay at the Sochi Olympics on Tuesday, easing some of the pain from the Vancouver Games when they finished first but were disqualified for illegal contact. In a tight race decided only on the final curve, South Korea’s Shim Suk-hee surged across the finish line, her fist pumping and a huge smile on her face. She and team mates Kim Alang, Park Seung-hi and Cho Ha-ri jumped up onto the podium holding hands to take a bow. “We were disqualified at the last Olympics and today we picked up the gold medal we left behind back then,” said Park, who was part of the team in 2010.

China inherited the gold in Vancouver when the Koreans were disqualified, but this time around it was the Chinese falling foul of the judges. Fan Kexin, Li Jianrou, Liu Qiuhong and Zhou Yang were second across the line on Tuesday, only to be disqualified. “This certainly makes up for it,” said Cho, who was also on South Korea’s Vancouver team. A split-second of disbelief was followed by joy for Canada’s Marie-Eve Drolet, Jessica Hewitt, Valerie Maltais and Marianne St-Gelais as they watched their third place turn to second on the scoreboard. The Canadians, who also won silver in Vancouver, have held a spot on the podium in the women’s relay at every Olympics since the event was introduced in 1992. Despite a tumble by Arianna Fontana that left Italy trailing with 13 laps to go, the team moved up to take home bronze following China’s disqualification.

“When I crashed ... we didn’t give up,” said Fontana, who won her third medal of the Sochi Games. She also won silver in the 500m and bronze in the 1,500m. The Chinese team, who were favourites despite losing four-time Olympic gold medallist Wang Meng to injury ahead of the Games, were left shaking their heads in disappointment. South Korea were ahead in the opening laps before China moved from the back of the pack to hit the front with 16 laps to go. The two teams swapped the lead again, China hitting the front with three laps to go, but Korea’s Shim navigated a daring winning pass of China’s 500m champion Li on the last leg of the 27 lap race. Tuesday’s racing may also help turn around the fortunes of South Korea’s men in what has been a barren run so far for nation that has long dominated the short track oval — winning 20 golds, far more than any other country.

Lee Han-bin and Park Se-yeong qualified for the 500m quarter-finals on the final day of racing on Friday.
They will be challenged by Russian home favourite Viktor Ahn, who looked in fine shape to add to his haul of four Olympic gold medals. But Charles Hamelin of Canada saw his chances of enjoying a 500m showdown with Ahn — with both already having won one gold in Sochi — evaporate when he lost his footing in the final lap of his heat, spinning into the boards. His girlfriend, St-Gelais, met with similar misfortune, losing her footing and colliding with Jorien ter Mors in her 1,000m heat. But the Dutchwoman, who won the 1,500m speed skating gold at the neighbouring Adler Arena, was advanced into the quarters after the referee ruled St-Gelais had blocked her path.

Meanwhile, Jorrit Bergsma dumped more 10,000 metres heartache on compatriot Sven Kramer by taking the men’s 10,000 metres title in a massive Olympic record time in yet another Dutch speed skating clean sweep on Tuesday. Bergsma clocked 12 minutes, 44.45 seconds for his 25 laps, smashing the previous mark by 14 seconds. Pre-race favourite Kramer looked on course to beat that and even challenge his own 2007 world record but faded late on and had to settle for silver, 4.57 seconds back. Bob de Jong took bronze, almost 23 seconds behind the leader. Four years ago in Vancouver, Kramer was celebrating what he thought was victory in the same race only to be disqualified for an incorrect lane change. This was meant to be retribution, but Bergsma had not read the script.

The 28-year-old, Bergsma skated in the penultimate heat in a blistering pace to set an impressive mark for 5,000m champion Kramer in the final pairing. Kramer reacted to the scorching time by flying out of the traps and, pushed by similarly speedy defending champion Lee Seung-hoon, clocked several quick splits to leave him on world record pace with 10 laps to go. But fatigue eventually kicked in on both men and Kramer fell outside the world record time and then crucially behind Bergsma’s splits with three laps remaining and came home for silver. Lee blew up completely to finish fourth. The watching Bergsma embraced his coach and celebrated victory while Kramer still had a lap to go, safe in the knowledge his time on the Adler Arena ice was too hot. It was a fourth clean sweep of the speed skating medals for the Dutch and sixth win from nine events, taking them to a Sochi-leading overall total of 20 medals.

Olympic Medals Table/Podium/Schedule

Medals Table
    Gold    Silver    Bronze    Total
Germany    8    3    4    15
Norway    7    4    7    18
Netherlands    6    6    8    20
United States    6    4    10    20
Russia    5    8    6    19
Switzerland    5    2    1    8
Belarus    5    0    1    6
Canada    4    9    4    17
Poland    4    0    0    4
China    3    2    1    6
France    3    1    5    9
Austria    2    6    1    9
Sweden    2    5    2    9
Slovenia    2    1    3    6
South Korea    2    1    1    4
Czech Republic    1    3    2    6
Japan    1    3    2    6
GreatBritain    1    0    1    2
Slovakia    1    0    0    1
Italy    0    2    4    6
Australia    0    2    1    3
Finland    0    2    0    2
Latvia    0    1    2    3
Croatia    0    1    0    1
Kazakhstan    0    0    1    1
Ukraine    0    0    1    1
Snowboard cross
Gold: Pierre Vaultier (FRA)
Silver: Nikolay Olyunin (RUS)
Bronze: Alex Deibold (USA)
15km mass start
Gold: Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR)
Silver: Martin Fourcade (FRA)
Bronze: Ondrej Moravec (CZE)
Nordic Combined
Large hill/10km
Gold: Joergen Graabak (NOR)
Silver: Magnus Hovdal Moan (NOR)
Bronze: Fabian Riessle (GER)
Speed Skating
Gold: Jorrit Bergsma (NED)
Silver: Sven Kramer (NED)
Bronze: Bob De Jong (NED)
Gold: David Wise (USA)
Silver: Mike Riddle (CAN)
Bronze: Kevin Rolland (FRA)
Alpine Skiing
Giant slalom
Gold: Tina Maze (SLO)
Silver: Anna Fenninger (AUT)
Bronze: Viktoria Rebensburg (GER)
Short Track
3000m relay
Gold: South Korea (Cho Ha-Ri, Park Seung-Hi, Shim Suk-Hee, Kim Alang, Kong Sang-Jeong)
Silve: Canada (Marie-Eve Drolet, Valerie Maltais, Marianne St-Gelais, Jessica Hewitt)
Bronze: Italy (Arianna Fontana, Martina Valcepina, Lucia Peretti, Elena Viviani)
Wednesday (Eight Gold Medals)
08:15-10:00 — Snowboard — Giant parallel slalom M + W — Qualification (Extreme Park — Rosa Khutor)
10:00-12:00 — Alpine skiing — Giant slalom M — 1st run (Alpine Site — Rosa Khutor)
11:00-13:30 — Ice Hockey M — Quarter finals (Bolshoi Ice Palace)
12:00-14:05 — Snowboard — Giant parallel slalom M + W — FINALS (Extreme Park — Rosa Khutor)
12:15-14:00 — Nordic skiing — Team sprint M + W — Qualification (Laura)
13:00-16:00 — Curling W — Semifinals (Ice Cube)
13:30-15:10 — Alpine skiing — Giant slalom M — 2nd run (Alpine Site — Rosa Khutor)
14:45-16:00 — Nordic skiing — team sprint M + W — FINALS (Laura)
15:30-18:00 — Ice Hockey M — Quarter finals (Bolshoi Ice Palace)
16:30-18:20 — Speed skating 5000m W — (Adler Arena)
17:30-19:30 — Biathlon — Mixed relay — (Laura)
18:00-22:30 — Figure skating — Women — Short Programme (Iceberg)
18:00-21:00 — Curling M — Semi-finals (Ice Cube)
19:15-21:20 — Bobsleigh — Two-woman — runs 3 and 4 — FINAL (Sanki sliding centre)
20:00-22:30 — Ice Hockey M — Quarter finals (Bolshoi Ice Palace)
20:00-22:30 — Ice Hockey M — Quarter finals (Shaiba Arena)

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