PyeongChang / Republic of Korea

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Short Track Speed Skating at the Gangneung Ice Arena conclude with the men’s 5000m Relay Final on Thursday. Korea, China, Hungary and Canada qualified, for what is set to be the climax of Olympic Short Track Speed Skating at PyeongChang 2018. Before the relay final the men will battle for the individual 500m gold and the ladies’ will compete for the 1000m medals.

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Men 5000m Relay heats ©Getty Images

The Korean men hope to hand the crowd another home title in the relay. The men’s Relay gold went to the home nation in the previous two Olympic Games too, with Russia winning at Sochi 2014 and Canada at Vancouver 2010. No Olympic Winter Games event, in any sport, has ever been won by the host NOC at three successive editions. Korea has won the men’s relay twice at the Olympic Winter Games, in 1992 and 2006, but Canada are still the most prolific winners, with three gold medals.

Korea will face Canada, China and Hungary in the Final A.

Hungary’s first?
Hungary never won a short track medal before. In fact Hungary has only six medals at the Olympic Winter Games, all in Figure Skating, none gold and none since 1980. Viktor Knoch (HUN) hopes to do his country proud: "Our goal at the end of these four years (the current Olympic cycle) was to qualify for the Olympics, get into the final and go home with a medal. Hungary hasn't won a medal in decades, so that would be a great thing to do."

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Viktor Knoch (HUN) ©Getty Images

And Knoch believes in Hungary’s chances: “We medaled at two of the last three world championships and we've been in the final of the last three world championships. It's not a shock but it's a great pleasure and a big stone lifted from our shoulders, as we really prepared for this and we really hoped we could skate the best we could. And we have nothing to lose from this point."

The United States, Japan and Kazakhstan race the Final B.

Korea, Canada and Netherlands with three into quarters of Ladies’ 1000m
The ladies’ 1000m go from the quarter finals all the way up to the final in Thursday. Korea and China have dominated this event in the past, with Korea winning four golds and China two. Korea, Canada and the Netherlands had three skaters qualifying for the quarter finals, whereas China had two advancing.

Koreans Sukhee Shim, Minjeong Choi and Alang Kim all qualified for the quarter finals winning their heats confidently. Choi won the event at two of four ISU World Cup meetings this season, in Budapest (HUN) and Seoul (KOR).

Canada’s Kim Boutin also won her heat, while her compatriots Marianne St Gelais and Valerie Maltais qualified second from theirs. The Netherlands have with Suzanne Schulting, Yara van Kerkhof and Lara van Ruijven in the quarter finals.

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Kim Boutin (CAN) ©Getty Images

Arianna Fontana (ITA), who won the ladies’ 500m event at PyeongChang 2018, qualified first of her heat, overtaking Kathryn Thomson (GBR) on the outside and Valerie Maltais (CAN) on the inside in one with a skillful maneuver. She took her seventh Olympic medal, grabbing silver in the ladies’ relay event on Tuesday.

Wu aims at China’s first in men’s 500m
Dajing Wu (CHN) hopes to win China's first gold medal in the men's 500m. China has two Olympic medals in this event, both silver. Following the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Wu won 10 men's 500m races at world championships and in the World Cup. No other skater won this event more than four times in that span.

Wu is joined by two countrymen in the quarter finals: Ziwei Ren and Tianyu Han. Korea is the only other nation to have three competitors in the quarters: Yira Seo, Hyojun Lim and Daeheon Hwang all qualified first from their heats.

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Dajing Wu (CHN) ©Getty Images

Shaolin Sandor Liu (HUN) also confidently won his heat. Before he steps on the ice with the relay team, he hopes to write Hungarian Winter Games history in the individual 500m. Liu won three men's 500m World Cup races since the start of the 2016/17 World Cup season.