Ladies 3000m Relay podium ©Getty Images
The expectations were high and the crowd made a deafening noise when their home favorites stepped on the ice, and Minjeong Choi, Alang Kim, Yejin Kim and Sukhee Shim delivered. The Korean ladies fought a tough battle in the Final A of the 3000m Relay, to come out on top at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Tuesday. Italy grabbed silver and the Netherlands took a surprise bronze after winning the Final B in a world record time, after Canada and China were penalized in the Final A.
Fighting back from behind
The Final A featured the same nations as in Sochi four years ago. Title defenders Korea were favorites after having broken the Olympic record despite a fall in the semifinals. The home nation did not have the best of starts however and they were sitting in the back in the first part of the race. Italy took an early lead, with Canada and China in a permanent struggle for second place.
Team Republic of Korea ©Getty Images
With 15 laps to go, Korea fought their way up to second place behind China. Canada managed to fight back to second place, but heading into the final six laps Korea grabbed the lead. Alang Kim skated the penultimate turn for Korea, and fell when she pushed Minjeong Choi into the final two laps. Choi managed to hold off China, who finished just one tenth behind. Italy crossed the line third and Canada fourth.
"It was a very long race and a lot was happening. We had to calm down and trust each other and that's what made the gold medal," said Sukhee Shim.
China and Canada penalized
The referees reviewed the video replay at the end of the race and all the teams waited for the final decision. China did their final relay exchange after the warning shot was fired indicating three laps to go, however they skated from the outside to the inside of the track, impeding the Korean skater which resulted in a penalty.
The rules for the relay stipulate that all the skaters in the relay team can get a penalty, not just the ones who are racing. In the case of Canada, a non-competing skater on the ice crossed over the virtual line and impeded the action at the finish lane which resulted in a penalty.
Team China / Team Korea / Team Italy / Team Canada ©Getty Images
Record second medal
Sukhee Shim and Alang Kim were also part of the winning team four years ago in Sochi. They join retired compatriots Eunkyung Choi, Leekyung Chun, Yunmi Kim and Hyekyung Won as the only athletes to have won two Olympic gold medals in this event.
"It is a glorious performance in the stadium, it is our home ground so much more meaningful. We got so cheered up by the crowd who welcomed us," Minjeong Choi said.
More silverware for Fontana
Seizing silver Arianna Fontana (ITA) collected her seventh Olympic medal, setting a ladies' record in Short Track by surpassing the six medals of China's Meng Wang. The 500m Champion from PyeongChang 2018 was delighted: "We are really happy, we got on the ice ready to fight and it was upsetting finishing with a fall and then not to be sure what was going to happen. I wanted to be there to fight for the gold medal because I was ready to go. We are super happy, super calm because this season we have struggled a little bit. We are going home with a silver medal and we are pretty happy.”
Team Italy ©Getty Images
Unique medal for Ter Mors
The Orange ladies jumped for joy when the referees’ verdict came after the Final A. They were the first team in who won a relay medal in Short Track after starting in the Final B. “After we watched the A final, and it was really crazy, we were just so nervous and we wait for the call and it was like two penalties," Schulting said.
Netherlands took an early lead in the Final B. Hungary were in their back for the entire race, but never managed to overtake. Jorien ter Mors, Yara van Kerkhof, Lara van Ruijven and Suzanne Schulting never gave way. Ter Mors set Schulting up for a fast final two laps and she kept the doors closed for Hungary to finish in a world record time of 4:03.471.
Team Netherlands ©AFP
"Now everyone saw, we deserved it,” Van Ruijven said. “And I think that was our main goal today, that we skate the B final as fast as we can and now we skated the world record and we showed we really deserved the bronze medal."
Ter Mors also won gold in the ladies' 1000m in long track Speed Skating on Wednesday 14 February. She became the first woman in history to win a medal in two different sports at a single Winter Games. "That's really special,” she said. “I hoped for it coming here into the Games but after losing the semis, I didn't expect to win a medal any more in the relay. It's really amazing to get a bronze medal and skating a world record in the B finals."