Meng Wang of China won the Olympic 500m Short track final for ladies as she did last Winter Olympics. Canadian skater Marianne St-Gelais took silver to the delight of the home crowd. Italian champion Arianna Fontana won bronze.
After a series of false starts Meng Wang took the A final lead at the outset. Arianna Fontana was following right behind Marianne St-Gelais, who had out-skated second skater in the world Kalyna Roberge in the semi finals. It looked like Fontana did have no problem to keep the pace of the Canadian, but did not get the opportunity to pass her. Jessica Gregg (CAN), the fourth lady in the final, skated at the tail and they finished in that order. Seung-Hi Park, Korea’s main hope, was disqualified in the quarterfinals, the best finisher for Korea was Eun-Byul Lee, who finished fourth in the B-final, just behind the best American, Katherine Reutter. Yang Zhou (CHN) won the B-final, ahead of Roberge.
Meng Wang is world record holder with 42.609, and improved the Olympic record several times during the races leading up to the finals. In the heats she brought it to 43.926, in the quarter finals to 43.284, in the semifinals 42.985. She is the third woman to retain an Olympic Short track title in an individual event and became the second Chinese competitor to win two gold medals at the Olympic Winter Games. The other skater was Yang Yang (A).
“After finishing the race I knelt down and kowtowed. As a Chinese person, this is the strongest way to express gratitude from the heart.” said Wang who also thanked her coach who had given her clear instructions, and her teammates. “In the final two laps tonight I felt my legs shaking. When you are so close to what you’ve always wanted, I think it’s natural to be shaken.”
Marianne St-Gelais became the first person to claim an Olympic medal in Short Track on her birthday. She is 20 years old. “Before the race I had three objectives. Top eight was reasonable, top four was ambitious and top three was a dream. But in a race you never know, so I pushed myself to the limit and went as far as possible. And I am quite happy”, she said.
Arianna Fontana with 19 years and 309 days became the third youngest Italian to win a medal at the Olympic Winter Games in an individual event. In Turin, she already was the youngest Italian to win an OWG medal, winning bronze in the Relay and she also has a silver medal on this distance from the 2007 World Championships. “I’m extremely happy with this result. After my semifinals, I believed I was worth a medal.”