Tuesday night’s Short Track program builds up to a climax, with the ladies’ 1000m heats, the men’s 500m heats and the ladies’ 3000m Relay Finals B and A. The crowd will look forward to Team Korea, who qualified for the Final A in spectacular fashion. Korea will face China, Italy and Canada in the battle for gold.
Havard Holmefjord Lorentzen (NOR) wiped off the dust of Norway’s speed skating history books on Monday. The 25-year-old sprinter claimed Norway's first Olympic 500m title since Finn Helgesen at the 1948 Olympics in Sankt Moritz, Switzerland. Korea’s Min Kyu Cha and China’s Tingyu Gao surprisingly seized the silver and bronze medals.
The Netherlands started their title defense in the Ladies’ Team Pursuit with a new Olympic record of 2:55.61. Japan finished a close second with 2:56.09 in the quarterfinals. Canada came third in 2:59.02 and the United States qualified fourth for the semifinals in 2:59.75.
Canada’s 2010 Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir skated to the lead in the short dance, setting a record score at Gangneung Ice Arena on Monday. Two-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis/ Guillaume Cizeron of France overcame a costume malfunction to place second, less than two points behind. U.S. Champions Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue are currently ranked third.
The men’s 500m is arguably the most competitive event in Speed Skating at the moment. 17 different skaters took at least one medal in this season’s ISU World Cup. Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen (NOR) and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (CAN) are the only ones who claimed more than one ISU World Cup gold this season.
Republic of Korea made a mark in the Men’s Team Pursuit quarterfinals on Sunday night. Seung-Hoon Lee, Jaewon Chun and Min Seok Kim finished their eight laps versus Italy in 3:39.29 to advance to the finals with the fastest time. The Netherlands came second in 3:40.03. Norway (3:40.09) and New-Zealand (3:41.18) grabbed the remaining semifinal tickets.
Nao Kodaira nailed it. After a winning streak of 15 races in the ISU World Cup over two seasons the Japanese rocket exploded for gold and an Olympic record in 36.94. Home favorite and title defender Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) had to settle for silver in 37.33 and Karolina Erbanova (CZE) ran away with the bronze in 37.34.
The Ice Dance competition shapes up as a duel between the experienced 2010 Olympic Champions and 2014 Olympic silver medalists Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) and young two-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis/ Guillaume Cizeron (FRA).
The sport of Figure Skating is constantly evolving and every two years the ISU Members vote on rule changes during the ISU Congress. Spectators and viewers at home will notice a couple of changes since the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
It will be Korea versus Japan, Sang-Hwa Lee versus Nao Kodaira, in the ladies’ 500m on Sunday. Lee is the two-fold Olympic champion defending her title on home soil, but Kodaira has reigned the shortest speed skating distance with an iron fist over the past two seasons, winning in each of her last 15 World Cup appearances.
Japan’s ‘Samurai’ Yuzuru Hanyu was unstoppable on his way to his second consecutive Olympic gold medal at Gangneung Ice Arena on Saturday. World silver medalist Shoma Uno made it one-two for Japan by overtaking Spain’s two-time World Champion Javier Fernandez, who settled for the bronze. Hanyu triumphed what was a festival of quadruple jumps.
Saturday’s Short Track Speed Skating program Gangneung Ice Arena makes up for more exciting competition in the ladies’ 1500m and the men’s 1000m. The Ladies will start with the heats and skate all the way to the final, while the men already finished their heats on Tuesday. They will skate the quarter, semi and finals on Saturday.
Hong Zhang (CHN) handed China the first speed skating gold, when she won the ladies’ 1000m in Sochi four years ago. This time around, she’s not high up the list of favorites. Her preparations for PyeongChang 2018 have been plagued by a long struggle to overcome the pain she feels in her knees.