The Iceberg Skating Palace was a raucous scene on Saturday for the men's 1,000-meter event in short-track speedskating. It is unclear how much athletes are able to feed off of a crowd, but the fans certainly seemed to make an impact as Russia took gold and silver at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Victor An, who captured three speedskating gold medals along with a bronze for South Korea at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, represented his new country in style as he took gold for the host Russians and earned them their first ever gold in short track, according to Alex Goldberger of NBCOlympics.com:
Viktor Ahn, born Ahn Hyun-Soo and dominant for his native South Korea, now Russia's first Olympic champion in short track— Alex Goldberger (@alexgoldberger) February 15, 2014
Fellow Russian Vladimir Grigorev nabbed the silver medal, while Dutch skater Sjinkie Knegt made the most of his new lease on life by winning bronze after being given a spot in the finals at the discretion of the officials.
Here is a look at the full finishing order for what was an extremely entertaining 1,000-meter final:
|5||Da Woon Sin||South Korea||PEN|
Along with that, here is some further analysis regarding the biggest angles that took shape throughout the competition.
Recap for 1,000-Meter Final
With five finalists vying for just three spots on the podium, it should come as no surprise that the 1,000-meter final was chaotic and exciting. An entered the race as the favorite since other potential contenders had failed to reach the final, and he didn't disappoint as he made South Korea regret its questionable treatment of him.
How many medals will Victor An ultimately win in Sochi?
According to Kwanwoo Jun of the Wall Street Journal, An's failure to qualify for the 2010 Olympics led to a falling out between he and his native country, and South Korea's loss ended up being Russia's gain.
An was basically in control from start to finish, so it became a question of which other two skaters would win medals. It quickly became a three-horse race for two podium spots behind An after Da Woon Sin of South Korea was penalized and eliminated from contention.
Grigorev was able to stick near his teammate for much of the race, and they worked together effectively to block other skaters from making a pass, per Alec Luhn of The Nation:
Beautiful teamwork by Ahn and Grigorev to block anyone from passing as they win 1000m speed skating— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) February 15, 2014
In addition to Russia's huge gold-silver finish, Knegt made history for the Netherlands. The Dutch are known for their excellence in long-track speedskating, but his bronze is the first for the Netherlands in short-track, according to CNN's Tom McGowan.
Knegt's accomplishment is yet another reminder that pretty much anything can happen in short-track speedskating. It is one of the most entertaining events at the Winter Olympics, and that held true on Saturday.
Americans Crash Out in Quarterfinals
Nobody said that life after Apolo Anton Ohno would be easy for USA speedskating, and Saturday's 1,000-meter races made that abundantly clear.
After winning two bronze medals in Vancouver, J.R. Celski was expected to essentially take the torch from Ohno, but that hasn't been the case thus far. Celski's latest shortcoming occurred in one of Saturday's quarterfinal races as he fell after his skate hit a block, according to Goldberger:
JR Celski went down in his QF heat (tripped over block). Didn't finish. Looked shaken up leaving the ice— Alex Goldberger (@alexgoldberger) February 15, 2014
Celski didn't finish the race, and he may have injured himself, per Chris Daniels of King 5 News in Seattle:
Hearing now that US Short Tracker JR Celski is receiving ice treatments, may have been injured in fall in 1000m. #Sochi2014— Chris Daniels (@ChrisDaniels5) February 15, 2014
Celski's fall was yet another disappointment in what has been a tough run for him in Sochi. He narrowly missed winning a medal in the 1,500 as he finished in fourth place, and he later admitted that there is pressure on him to be "the guy" for USA speedskating, according to Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune:
Of course the spotlight is on me more. (Having) it gives me some kind of confidence, knowing that I am able to do this ... Of course I want to be on the podium again (here). But this is short track, and it's a tough sport.
If Celski is going to reach the podium, he'll have to do so in the 500 or the 5,000-meter team relay. Depending upon the severity of his apparent knee injury, though, his ability to compete in those races could be compromised.
In addition to Celski, American Eddy Alvarez experienced a crash in the quarterfinals as well. Alvarez was extremely unlucky as Canadian favorite Charles Hamelin fell in front of him and ultimately took him out in the process.
Alvarez finished third, and although officials reserve the right to advance a skater if they are impeded, he was not given a spot in the semifinals. According to Beau Dure of SportsMyriad.com, it was a controversial and curious decision:
Uhhhhh ... if someone falls two feet in front of you and takes you out, how is that not "impeding"? Eddy Alvarez was just robbed.— Beau Dure (@duresport) February 15, 2014
If all of that wasn't enough disappointment for American speedskating fans in one day, Chris Creveling finished third in his quarterfinal, so no Team USA skater had the opportunity to race their way into the finals.
Charles Hamelin Fails to Qualify for Finals
After winning gold in the 1,500-meter race, Canada's Charles Hamelin was viewed as a top contender to do the same in the 1,000. Hamelin is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and a four-time medalist overall, although he has never captured an Olympic medal in the 1,000-meter event. That drought continued for the 29-year-old native of Quebec, as he failed to make it past his quarterfinal heat.
Things appeared to be going swimmingly for Hamelin, but in an extremely uncharacteristic move, he appeared to lose an edge, which caused him to go down. According to Bruce Arthur of The National Post, it looked as though Hamelin simply fell on his own.
Oh my gosh, Charles Hamelin just fell in the 1000, all by himself.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 15, 2014
That is extremely rare for such a steady skater, but it was a perfect example of the perils of short-track speedskating. Being the favorite often means nothing since one false move by anyone on the track can change things significantly. Hamelin ended up finishing last in his heat, nearly 15 seconds behind Victor An of Russia due to the fall.
Hamelin had a golden opportunity heading into the 1,000-meter event. With his second gold medal in Sochi, he would have become the most decorated Canadian Winter Olympian of all time, per Charlie Gillis of Macleans.ca:
If he'd won 1000m, Charles Hamelin would have set Cdn record for most Winter Oly golds (4). In his head? Nah, he says.— Charlie Gillis (@ChasGillis) February 15, 2014
Unfortunately for Hamelin and Canadian speedskating fans, it simply wasn't meant to be. However, he still has a great chance to secure more hardware in Sochi. The 500-meter race will take place on Feb. 21, and he has medaled in that event at the Olympic level.
Hamelin will once again be the prohibitive favorite in the 500. He won gold in that race on home ice in Vancouver back in 2010, and there is reason to believe that he can do it again in Sochi.
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