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Short-track speedskating

Ohno DQ'd in 500, teams up for bronze in 5,000

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 26, 2010 10:33 PM

Update, 11:15:The US 5,000-meter relay team earns the bronze -- giving Ohno his third medal in Vancouver and his eighth overall -- but the night belongs to the hosts:

Hamelin follows his victory in the 500 meters by leading Canada to gold in the 5,000, with a total time among the four team members of 6 minutes 44.24 seconds.

* * *
For a moment, it appeared Apolo Anton Ohno would collect his third medal of the Vancouver Olympics and the eighth of his record-setting short-track speedskating career.

But the moment, as they so often are in the frenetic sport, was fleeting. Two skaters had wiped out around the final turn of the 500-meters race, and Ohno, in the fourth and final position and struggling to find an opening, appeared to be a possible culprit. The replay confirmed as much to official, and instead of owning a silver medal, Ohno was disqualified.

Replay showed that Ohno made slight contact -- grazed is probably the operative word -- with Canada's Francois-Louis Tremblay while coming around the final turn. It's debatable whether it actually affected Trembley, but a split-second later he went sprawling into the boards, as did Korea's Si-Bak Sung almost immediately thereafter.

Ohno crossed the line, wobbling, behind gold medalist Charles Hamelin of Canada, who was the only racer to make it through the race cleanly. Ohno smiled but did not celebrate after the race; the look on his face seemed to suggest he knew this one was going to a jury, and the verdict wasn't certain to go in his favor.

Hamelin took the gold in 40.981 seconds. Silver went to Sung, while Tremblay took the bronze. Had everyone remained upright, Ohno would have been stride-for-stride with Tremblay for the bronze.

Coincidentally, Ohno advanced to the finals by avoiding crashes in both of his first two heats.

All together now:

That's short track!

Ohno does have a shot at one more medal tonight, in the 5,000-meter relay finals, which are coming up shortly.

And we shouldn't neglect to mention that the US team already has secured one medal tonight at Pacific Coliseum -- Katherine Reutter won the silver medal in womenís 1,000-metter short-track.

Daily snapshot: February 26

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 26, 2010 12:41 AM

How about nine? Apolo Anton Ohno has won two medals here in Vancouver already, making him the most decorated US Winter Olympics athlete of all time. (Two golds + two silvers + three bronzes = A heck of a trophy case.) The popular short-track dynamo has a chance to add two more tonight in the 500 meters and the 5,000-meter relay. But he might not be the only story for the US on the short track at Pacific Coliseum. Katherine Reutter is a medal contender in the women's 1,000 meters. 9 p.m.

Go, go, Gorgone: The US will have just one representative in the women's parallel giant slalom at Cypress Mountain -- Boston's own Michelle Gorgone. Gorgone will attempt to become just the second US medalist since the event debuted in Nagano in 1998. There are two morning qualifying runs in the parallel GS, with a field of 16 racers advancing to the finals at 3:15 p.m.

And don't forget . . . . . . men's ice hockey, of course. (Not that you would. We're not accusing.) Ryan Miller and the United States face Finland in one semifinal, while Canada -- which looked unstoppable against Russia and has 15 goals in its past two games -- takes on Slovakia in the other. Fair to say we're all hoping for a rematch of the US's 5-3 win Sunday? Because they sure are up here. US-Finland: 3 p.m.; Canada-Slovakia: 9:30 p.m.

Ohno wins bronze, record seventh medal

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 20, 2010 11:55 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- When it comes to winning precious medals, short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno now stands alone at the podium.

But it took a daring last-lap dash to get him there.

Ohno won the bronze medal in the men's short-track 1,000-meter race tonight at Pacific Coliseum. The medal is the seventh of his career, the most all-time by a US Winter Olympics athlete.

Ohno, 27, broke the record he shared for exactly a week with long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair, who earned five golds and a bronze during her career. Ohno now owns two golds, two silvers, and three bronzes, and he has two more races remaining here in Vancouver, the 500-meter and the 5,000-meter relay.

The gold and silver medals in the 1,000 meters were claimed by Korea, with Jung-Su Lee winning in an Olympic-record time of 1 minute 23.747 seconds and teammate Ho-Suk Lee second with a 1:23.801. Ohno arrived at the line at 1:24.128.

A place on the podium was no certainty for Ohno as the final took shape. He began third on the inside and remained in that position behind Canadian brothers Charles and Francois Hamelin until there were three laps remaining.

He made a quick move that briefly moved him into second place, but he fell back to fifth after a slight slip. But with the Koreans making their move to overcome the Hamelin brothers and take the lead, Ohno went for it with a half-lap remaining, slipping past the pair of Canadians and crossing the line ahead of Charles Hamelin, much to the chagrin of the crowd.

By winning the bronze, Ohno . . .

  • . . . is tied for first on the all-time Winter Olympic total career medals by men, not including the skiing events.

  • . . . owns the most medals won by a short-track speedskater from any nation.

  • . . . is tied for 15th overall and seventh among men on the career Winter Olympic medals list.

  • . . . is the sixth short-track speedskater to win medals during three different Olympic Games.

  • . . . ranks fourth on the all-time Winter Olympic list for medals won, not including skiing events.

    * * *

    11:11 p.m. "Welcome to the Jungle" is pounding from the PA system. Knew they'd get the music right eventually.

    And now the arena is rocking with rising, dueling chants of "USA! USA!" and "CAN-A-DA! CAN-A-DA!" Great crowd, great atmosphere, great sport. Here's hoping for a worthy final.

    11:05 p.m. Reutter finishes fourth, with Zhou Yang of China taking the gold with a new women's 1,500-meter Olympic record of 2:16.99.

    Update, 10:39 p.m. Ohno is headed to the finals. Whether he made it by the length of his skate blade or half-a-length . . . well, your guess is as good as ours here in the arena.

    What we are sure of is that Ohno will get a crack at his seventh career medal tonight after edging Canadian Charles Hamelin and world-record-holder Si-Bak Sung of Korea at the line. Ohno and Hamelin advance to the final, but it wasn't certain until a replay was shown on the scoreboard.

    Ohno won the race in 1:25.033, with Hamelin earning the second berth in the finals at 1:25.62. Sung was left out, finishing just 0.06 behind the Canadian.

    Ohno began in fourth place on the outside of the 10-lap race. He took third on the seventh lap, passing China's Jialiang Han as he staggered a bit on a turn. Ohno remained in third most of the way.

    Then, with half a lap remaining and a berth in the finals at stake, it was time. He moved wide to the outside, then deftly cut inside of the leader Sung as well as Hamelin, passing them in one swoop going around the second-to-last turn. It appeared that Ohno was the first across the line, but it was not certain until the replay . . .

    The finalists are Ohno, both Hamelins, Ho-Suk Lee (Korea) and Jung-Su Lee (Korea).

    In the women's 1,000 meters coming up here in a minute or two, American Katherine Reutter is a finalist. She advanced from her semifinal after a fall caused by Chinaís Meng Wang. (In the arena right now, they're calling that "pulling a Celski.")

    Update, 10:33 p.m. The first semifinal -- a.k.a. The One Ohno Isn't In -- is underway, with J.R. Celski starting from the first (and inside position) . . .

    . . . and as we're writing that, he becomes Public Enemy No. 1 in the rink, at least temporarily, when his aggressive move on the final lap resulted in contact that sent Canadian Francois Hamelin skidding into the boards.

    Celski finished third -- not enough to qualify for the semis anyway -- but the crowd did enjoy a cheer moments later when it was announced he was disqualified.

    Ohno's race begins momentarily . . .

    Update, 9:33 p.m. Effortless. That's the first word that comes to mind to describe Apolo Anton Ohno's performance in his1,000-meter quarterfinal race moments ago.

    Ohno finished a mostly suspense-free second place to Canada's Charles Hamelin; the top two in each quarterfinal advance to the semis.

    Hamelin finished in 1 minute 23.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds ahead of Ohno.

    Ohno started third and remained there in the 10-lap race until 2 1/2 remained. That's when he made his move, easily passing Germany's Tyson Heung on the outside and pulling away along with Hamelin before cruising over the finish line.

    In the third quarterfinal, J.R. Celski, who earned a bronze in the 1,500 a week ago, finished second to Korea's Si-Bak Sung to advance.

    Also, a note from the women's 1,500 meters: Americans Katherine Reutter and Allison Baver both are in the semis.

    The men's semis are set to start at 10:28 p.m. As you might expect, there's lots of Zamboni action here between races.

    * * *

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Here at the Pacific Coliseum, it's almost showtime for Apolo.

    He probably requires no further introduction than that, but we'll go on with the formality anyway. Short-track speedskating Apolo Anton Ohno's status as a short-track speedskating icon (and a first-ballot "Dancing With The Stars" Hall of Famer) is already secure.

    But tonight he takes his first shot at an even greater legacy: The most decorated US Winter Olympian of all time. With a medal tonight, he will break his week-old tie with former long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair for the most career medals won by an American in the winter games, with six. Ohno enters with two complete sets of medals -- two gold, two silver, two bronze. Blair, as she reminded reporters jokingly -- but reminded us nonetheless -- earlier this week, has five golds and a bronze.

    Ohno, a three-time Olympian, has won a pair of medals in this event in the past -- a silver in 2002 in Salt Lake City and a bronze in 2006 in Torino, Italy. But a medal for the 27-year-old Ohno is far from a sure thing. He will start third in in the first quarterfinal, a deep field that also includes Canadian Charles Hamelin, Germany's Tyson Heung, and Italy's Nicolas Bean.

    Fellow American J.R. Celski, who took bronze in the 1,500 last Saturday when Ohno grabbed the silver, starts from the No. 2 position in the third quarterfinal. Other medal contenders should include South Koreans Si-Bak Sung, Ho-Suk Lee, and Jung-Su. Lee.

    The latter won gold in the 1,500 meters, while Sung and Lee fell while angling for position and wound up in a heap just before the finish line, allowing Ohno to slip in for an improbable silver and tie Blair's mark.

    Ohno is ranked second in the world in the 1,000 meters distance, but if he doesn't win his seventh medal tonight, he'll have two more shots in Vancouver. He still has the 500 meters and the 5,000-meter relay on his docket.

    * * *

  • There was some skull-thumpingly awful techno music playing as the entrants in the ladies' 1,500 meters warm up. The perpetrator is introduced over the public address system as DJ Irene. She'll never be mistaken for DJ Pauly D. The men are now warming up to a mix of hip-hop and AC/DC. The superior option, clearly. (Now Green Day. Even more progress . . .)

  • Tonight's theme at the Coliseum is "Celebrating the Yukon." If this guy puts in a cameo, I'll pass it along.

    All right, we'll be back for Ohno's lead-off quarterfinal, which is slated for 9:29 p.m. EST. The women's 1,500-meter heats are about to begin . . .

  • Daily snapshot: February 20

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 20, 2010 04:01 AM

    Bye-bye, Bonnie? Apolo Anton Ohno goes for his United States record-breaking seventh Olympic Winter Games medal in the menís short-track speedskating 1000 meters. Should he finish on the podium, he will surpass the standard of six medals set by long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair. (For the record, she had five golds and a bronze, while Ohno has three sets of two. Just saying.)

    Stealing the show on snow? In the women's super-G at Whistler, Julia Mancuso goes for her third medal of these games, while Lindsey Vonn, who won gold in the downhill Wednesday but crashed in the slalom portion of the women's combined Thursday, tries to keep pace with her lesser-heralded Alpine teammate.

    And don't forget . . . The menís 1500-meter long-track speedskating race will mark the last individual performance in Olympic medalist Chad Hedrickís career. Teammate Shani Davis will try to send him out with a parting gift that is something less than gold . . . Lebanon, N.H. native Nick Alexander will achieve flight during large hill ski jumping at Whistler.

    An improbable sixth for Ohno; Celski third

    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff February 13, 2010 09:17 PM

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia, 10:42 p.m. -- Short-track speedskating is known for its wild finishes and improbable plot twists.

    But the stunning, whoa-did-that-just-happen development that led to Apolo Anton Ohno tying a record for US winter athletes with his sixth Olympic medal tonight? Well, even after seeing it and seeing it again, you may not believe it actually happened.

    In the waning moments of the final of the 1,500 meters, Ohno appeared to be edged off the podium, lagging in fourth place with the finish line just meters away and lacking an opening that would help him tie Bonnie Blair's standard.

    Then, a crash and a collective gasp. A pair of skaters ahead of Ohno tumbled to the ice. And Ohno's path to the podium -- not to mention that of J.R. Celski, the perceived future of the sport in the US -- was suddenly as clear as the ice in front of him. It was as if someone's secret wish had been granted.

    When the jaws were picked up off the floor here in the Pacific Coliseum, the final tally read silver for Ohno -- his six-pack of medals now includes two of each -- a bronze for Celski, who wore a wide-eyed look of utter joy on the podium, and gold for Lee Jung-su of Korea, who was safely ahead of the wipeout behind him, winning in 2:17.611.

    While marveling at the finish and Ohno's fortune and feats, we must acknowledge the heartbreak for Korean's Ho-Suk Lee and Si-Bak Sung, who were strides from the podium themselves when disaster struck.

    Then again, they are surely long aware of the truth. That's the way of the sport.

    * * *

    10:31 p.m. Here we go. Ohno, ranked fifth in the world, will start from the No. 2 position. Lee Jung-su, who edged Ohno in the semis and is No. 1 in the world, starts first. J.R. Celski, whose background is similar to Ohno's, begins in the fifth spot.

    The biggest ovation in intros, naturally, goes to Canada's Jean Olivier, who starts seventh.

    9:42 p.m., update: Not sure if it comes across this way on television, but when watching short-track speedskating live, you feel a similar tension to what you feel watching a NASCAR race when a crash seems inevitable.

    And that's especially true when someone has as much at stake as Ohno does tonight. Which is part of the charm of the sport -- as well as one reason why the fearless Ohno is so accomplished at it.

    With some daring maneuvering with two laps remaining, Ohno's quest for a sixth medal remained plausible tonight. Starting from the final spot, he moved to third place with nine laps remaining, then deftly moved up to second, cutting inside of Canada's Charles Hamelin with a risky move with two laps left to secure a place in the finals. South Korea's Lee Jung-su finished first.

    Ohno will be joined by fellow American J.R. Celski, who finished second in his semifinal.

    Hamelin, who briefly moved into first place in Ohno's semi to the roaring approval of the crowd, finished third and did not advance.

    * * *

    9:12 p.m. Judging by the first head tonight, Ohno knows what he's doing . . . of course, that probably goes without saying given that the short-track speedskating idol already has had five medals draped around his neck during his two previous appearances in the Winter Olympic games.

    Nonetheless, he couldn't have been more impressive in his first heat of the 1,500 meters tonight here at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver as he attempts to win his sixth Olympic medal.

    The 27-year-old literally coasted to victory in his heat, the fifth of the night, lagging behind the pack until there were three laps remaining in the 13.5 lap race, then making his move and blowing past four skaters on the outside, the impressive scene enhanced by two of his competitors toppling to the ice in his wake. Ohno's time of 2:17.653 was nearly a full second better than second-place finisher Pieter Gysel of Belgium. J.R. Celski of the US finished second in the third heat to also reach the seminfinals.

    * * *

    Should Ohno medal in the 1,500 tonight -- and I suspect Bob Costas has already and often told you the information to follow, given that it's one of the most anticipated stories of these Games -- he would break a tie with long-track speedskating superhero Eric Heiden for the most winter medals won by an American male, and he would tie Bonnie Blair for the most medals won by a US athlete in the Winter Games.

    There might be an ever-so-slight exaggeration to Ohno's quest, something he has acknowledged -- after all, Blair won five golds, and Heiden won five alone during his historic performance in 1980 at Lake Placid. Ohno, who will compete in five races here, owns two golds entering tonight.

    * * *

    The crowd, which has filled out (we'll call it "slightly late arriving") to close to the venue's 14,200 capacity, is raucously in favor of the former "Dancing With The Stars" champ, and there is a good-time vibe all around; it's safe to assume more than few $10 beers from the concession stands have been consumed.

    There's silence only in the seconds before the starting gun, the fans, a large majority of whom are adorned it at least one article of clothing that says "Canada," groan in unison at false starts, then bang cowbells and escalate their cheers as the heat nears its conclusion.

    The public address announcer talks almost non-stop during the heats, and in the few moments he pauses to fill his lungs, music is pumped over the public address system; there's a definite predilection toward '90s grunge. I'm pretty sure I haven't heard "Machinehead" by Bush since my wardrobe featured flannel, but the lyrics do seem appropriate to the event.

    Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in . . .

    We'll be back with more on Ohno's quest on at the top of this post, so be sure to stick around.

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