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[PyeongChang 2018] S. Korea picks up 2 titles to wrap up Short Track World Cup

By Yonhap
  • Published : Nov 19, 2017 - 19:40
  • Updated : Nov 21, 2017 - 17:23

Host South Korea picked up two more gold medals to wrap up the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup Short Track Speed Skating on Sunday.

Choi was crowned the women's 1,000 meters champion at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul on the last day of the competition. Then in the men's 5,000m relay, South Korea edged out the Netherlands for its first World Cup relay gold of the season.

Also on Sunday, Hwang Dae-heon won silver in the men's 1,000m, and the women's 3,000m relay team took home bronze.

Overall, South Korea finished with three gold, four silver and one bronze medals.

This was the final World Cup of the season and also the last qualifying event for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. And South Korea secured maximum spots in all races thanks to another strong World Cup season.

Lim Hyo-Jun of South Korea, Sjinkie Knegy of Netherlands, J.R. Celski of USA and Victor An of Russia, compeate during the men 5000m relay final in the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul, South Korea, 19 November 2017. (EPA-Yonhap)

A total of 110 Olympic spots, 55 each for men and women, were up for grabs here, and quota places will be determined based on countries' results at World Cup races. The three best results out of four World Cups in each event were considered for Olympic qualification.

In the 500m and 1,000m for both men and women, 32 quota spots are up for grabs. In the 1,500m for both genders, the maximum is 36. And eight teams apiece will compete in the men's 5,000m and women's 3,000m relays.

As the Olympic host, South Korea was guaranteed five men and five women in all races at PyeongChang 2018, but with only one skater each in that scenario. And the long-time short track powerhouse made it all moot by sweeping up multiple World Cup medals on home ice.

South Korea leads all countries with 21 Olympic short track gold medals all-time.

In the women's 1,000m final, Choi defeated Kim Boutin of Canada for her second gold medal here this weekend. Choi had won the 1,500m gold medal along with silver in the 500m on Saturday.

Choi's teammate Shim Suk-hee finished fourth in the 1,000m after a collision with Elise Christie of Britain.

At four World Cups this season, Choi collected six of 12 individual gold medals at stake. But the 19-year-old said she still had room for improvement.

"I am only about 70 percent satisfied with the results here,"

Choi said. "For one, the mistake in the relay was huge. I may have posted good results but the process left much to be desired."

Later in the men's 1,000m final, Hwang Dae-heon earned silver for his second medal of the competition.

He finished just behind Shaolin Sandor Liu of Hungary in the final. On Saturday, Hwang won silver in the 1,500m.

The youngest member of the men's team at 18, Hwang was the only individual medalist among South Korean men.

The South Korean men's 5,000m relay team won gold in a thrilling finish. They battled the Dutch skaters for the top spot in the final stretch. South Korea opened a sizable lead before Lim Hyo-jun slipped on a corner to allow the Netherlands to close the gap, but held on to win the last race of the competition.

This was South Korea's first World Cup gold in the men's relay since the third leg of the 2014-2015 season. This season, the men had been limited to one silver in three World Cup appearances before Sunday.

"It's great to have finally ended the relay drought," said Kwak Yoon-gy, the most senior member of the team at 27. "Our goal is to win a medal in every race at the Olympics, but personally I'd love to win one in the relay."

Kim Do-kyoum said winning as a team is the best part of competing in relays.

"It makes it extra sweeter to have everyone pick up the medal," Kim said. "And this makes up for some disappointments from earlier individual races."

South Korea's last Olympic gold in the men's relay came at the 2006 Torino Games.

The South Korean women weren't so lucky in the 3,000m  relay final.

South Korea was in the lead with 15 laps to go in the 27-lap race, but China snatched the lead with six laps remaining. Then Kim Ye-jin, trying to move out in front again, fell down following a collision with Guo Yihan of China.

South Korea was the last among four nations to cross the finish line but moved up to bronze when China was disqualified. (Yonhap)