Teamwork and tactics paid dividends in a morning of excitement at the speed skating mixed NOC team sprint event on Lake St. Moritz.
Featuring 16 teams of four athletes – two men and two women – from different nations, the gold medal went to Team 3, made up of Sini Siro (FIN), Yoshida Yukino (JPN), Ignaz Gschwentner (AUT) and Alexander Sergeev (RUS).
“I would normally have never won a medal in speed skating at the Youth Olympic Games,” said Siro after Team 3’s winning time of two minutes, 4.1 seconds. “But this was a perfect opportunity for me as we were competing as a team.
“Teamwork is for sure the reason behind this success, because we learn from each other. It is very awesome to win gold.”
In what proved to be a dramatic event, three teams were disqualified for overtaking infringements. This included Team 5 whose second-place position was wiped out following a crash by Kim Min Hui (KOR).
“I was not quite sure if we were going to be disqualified,” her teammate Oddbjoern Mellemstrand (NOR) said. “I just continued skating. We could have been on the podium.
“I have got mixed feelings about it, but you cannot be mad. It sometimes happens, so you just have to accept it.”
Theo Collins, the first British long track skater to compete in any Olympic Winter Games since 1992, was delighted with his team’s silver medal.
He raced in Team 16 alongside Laura Kivioja (FIN), Daria Kopacz (POL) and gold medallist in the men’s 1500m event, Arito Motonaga (JPN).
“Long track in the UK is slowly developing, but hopefully getting a medal in the Youth Olympics will get it some attention,” he said. “When you do a sport and you love it, you want other people to join in.”
Meanwhile, the experience of being involved in a team event of mixed ability has proven both inspirational and instructive.
“It’s quite nice to skate with people of such a high level,” said Collins. “I put in everything because I wanted to do the rest of the team justice. They’ve put in a lot of hard work as well.
“I never came here with any performance aspiration. It’ll be great to go back home and show off my medal.”
Team 14 took bronze with the collective of Valeriia Sorokoletova (RUS), Ramona Ionel (ROU), Jonathan Tobon (USA) and Tuukka Suomalainen (FIN).