Kim Dong Wook took two gold medals as Korea's short track skaters topped the podium in every race on Saturday © International Skating Union
Republic of Korea dominated the opening day of Finals at the ISU World Cup Short Track event in Nagoya, winning all five gold medals on offer.
Kim Dong Wook left Nippon Gaishi Arena with two gold medals on Saturday, winning the Men’s 1500m and Mixed 2000m Relay, but he insisted there was more to come from his outstanding team.
“We are working together, the whole team, and helping each other to work hard because this is what we wanted today,” he said.
“We are waiting to party because we have tomorrow (in Nagoya) and also Shanghai for the World Cup (event) four.
“After we go back to Korea, maybe we can celebrate and party there.”
Korea show their strength
Kim Ji Yoo picked up Korea’s first gold medal of the day, winning the Ladies’ 1500m final, just as she did at the previous World Cup meeting in Montreal.
With Italy’s dangerous Arianna Fontana caught at the back, in-form Canadian Kim Boutin hit the front with five laps to go in Nagoya. But as Fontana started making headway, Kim Ji Yoo overtook Boutin and moved up to first on the second-last lap.
The leading trio broke clear of the field but Kim couldn’t be displaced, winning comfortably ahead of Boutin, who was soundly clear of Fontana.
“I was waiting and waiting and then when the last two laps came, it gave me the chance to move in front of Boutin and then I could ease to the win,” Kim said.
“I’m proud I was able to believe in myself. I’m strong in the last two laps, skating in front till the finish.”
Noh Ah Rum won one of Korea's five gold medals in Nagoya © International Skating Union
The Men’s 1500m followed, and Kim Dong Wook executed his gameplan to perfection.
Shaolin crashed while turning and was later penalised for the incident, before Kim and countryman Park in Wook took control. The Korean duo dominated the final few laps to finish first and second, leaving Watanabe to claim the bronze medal.
“We know the Japanese ice has (just) OK speed, so the strategy is changing because we are planning to be more ‘last-minute’, waiting to see which skaters are moving,” Kim said.
“We keep watching (and) we wanted everybody moving to us, so it’s easy to react to the move and win.”
Noh eclipses Schulting in Ladies’ 1000m
“I was so nervous for the 1000m and even the silver or bronze medal (would have been great),” Noh said.
“I’m so happy. I want to say thanks to my team and my parents and family in Korea. It’s incredible.”
USA’s Kristen Santos finished third to secure her first ISU Short Track World Cup medal, having overcome a herniated disc in her back.
“I trained really hard this summer and then ended up injured. So I just took a month off right before World Cup one (Salt Lake City) and two (Montreal),” she said.
“So I didn’t exactly know where I would be going into this World Cup season after that, but I’m really excited to know that I’m even better than I was before, even considering the injury.”
Park Ji Won cruised to victory in the Men’s 1000m Final © International Skating Union
Van Ruijven slip costs Netherlands
In the final medal event on Saturday, the Mixed 2000m Relay, Netherlands built a healthy advantage of almost a quarter of a lap by the mid-point of the race.
But Korea started chipping away at the buffer, and with six laps to go they were gifted the lead when Netherlands’ skater Lara van Ruijven fell while clear in front.
A thrilling finish followed between Korea, China and Russia, and Kim Dong Wook held on to make it a perfect five-from-five for short track’s powerhouse nation.
“It was a crazy feeling. It’s unbelievable that I can be the one to secure the win.” he said.
China were penalised for blocking by an infield skater, which promoted Netherlands into the bronze medal position. Russia took silver.
There was late drama on Saturday in the Ladies’ 3000m Relay semifinals, when Schulting and Russia’s Ekaterina Efremenkova fell and smashed into each other and the padded boarding.
Both athletes left the ice on their own two skates, but Efremenkova was later taken to hospital on a stretcher to have checks on her back.
Russia advanced to the A Final, along with race winners Italy and second-placed finishers USA.
They’ll race against Korea and Canada in the final on Sunday.
Russia, Korea, China and Kazakhstan progressed to the Men’s 5000m Relay final, which is also on Sunday.
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