Republic of Korea athletes confirmed their dominance of short track speed skating at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games by taking gold in the men’s and ladies’ 500m events on Monday.
Seo Whi Min (KOR) won the ladies’ event to complete a Games double after her win in the 1000m on Saturday.
Lee Jeongmin (KOR) turned the tables on his teammate Jang Sungwoo, winning the men’s 500m after Jang had pipped him for the gold in the 1000m on Saturday. Zhang Tianyi (CHN) claimed the bronze in the 500m.
“We were worried before the start because we are better in the 1000m, so to be first and second again is really good,” Lee said.
Short track’s 500m event is raced over four-and-a-bit laps of the 111.12m track, making for an exciting session at the Lausanne Skating Arena.
This included a crash that took out all four skaters in the ladies’ B final (which decides rankings five to eight). After tumbling heavily into the safety barriers, the athletes got up, dusted themselves off and headed back to the starting line for the re-skate.
“I’m still not sure what happened,” Hailey Choi (USA) said. “I saw the two girls fall in front of me, then the other girl fell, then I fell with her and everyone was down. That’s racing sometimes.”
Seo, 17, used her brilliant starting speed to control her races, leading from the front in her heat, quarterfinal, semifinal and final.
“I was worried today because the 500m is not my pet event. I’m proud I earned it,” she said.
Seo said her parents and sister in Seoul had been following her performances online and had even watched her medal presentation on Saturday.
She said she planned on keeping both medals but was going to make a gift of the toy mascot Yodli that she was presented after Monday’s win.
“I am going to give this one to my sister,” she said.
Behind Seo, Michelle Velzeboer (NED) claimed silver and Florence Brunelle (CAN) bronze.
For Velzeboer, her medal was a pleasant surprise. She started racing in part because her father, Mark, had competed for Netherlands in short track at the Albertville 1992 Olympic Winter Games.
“I was expecting maybe a quarterfinal today, but a medal is beyond what I was even hoping for. I’m really happy.
“The whole Games have been an amazing experience.”