It was twenty-five years ago that the sport made its debut at the Winter Olympic Games as a demonstration sport. This weekend twenty-nine countries entered for first round, with the team from Korea earning the most medals this weekend, totaling ten medals. Canada and China earned six and five medals, while both the United States and Russia earned three medals. Italy, Great Britain and Japan each earned one medal.
During the weekend the skaters competed over the 1000m distance twice along with the usual other distances. In the first Ladies 1000m final, Soyoun Lee of Korea won the event, finishing ahead of Elise Christie of Great Britain. Third place finisher was Qiuhong Liu of China. In the second Ladies 1000m final, Suk Hee Shim (Korea) took the win, ahead of Marie-Eve Drolet of Canada. Third place went to Min-Jung Kim of Korea. Elise Christie takes an early lead in the World Cup ranking for the distance after 2 events.
On the men's side, the first 1000m final was won on the last lap, when Vladimir Grigorev (Russia) passed Olivier Jean (Canada) for the lead. Close behind on third place was American skater J.R. Celski. The second 1000m final was won by Victor An of Russia, who edged out Michael Gilday of Canada. Third place finisher was Yoon-Gy Kwak of Korea. After 2 events, Grigorev and An are tied for first place in the World Cup ranking for the distance.
In the ladies 1500m, the top of the podium was a one-two Korean affair: Suk Hee Shim finishing first, ahead of her teammate Ha-Ri Cho. Third place went to Jianrou Li of China. The men's 1500m event was also dominated by Korean skaters, with Jinkyu Noh taking the win in front of teammate Yoon-Gy Kwak. Charles Hamelin of Canada gave the fans something to cheer about with a third place finish. With their wins, Shim and Noh take the early lead in the World Cup distance classification for the 1500m.
The Ladies 500m final was won by Meng Wang of China, who finished ahead of her teammate Qiuhong Liu. Arianna Fontana (Italy) was third. On the men's side, history was written as J.R. Celski (USA) was the first man to officially skate that distance under 40 seconds. This world record was one of many broken at the Olympic Oval. Charles Hamelin (Canada) finished second, ahead of American skater John-Henry Krueger. The World Cup ranking leaders for this distance are Wang (Ladies) and Celski (Men).
The competition ended with the relay events, Korea winning both the Ladies and Men's relay events. In the Ladies 3000m relay, Korea narrowly edged out China, as both teams battled throughout the race. Japan finished in third place. In the Men's 5000m relay event, Korea beat Russia, who finished ahead of the local favorite Canadian team.
The Samsung ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series now travels to Montreal, for the second stop on Canadian soil, on October 26-28, 2012.