Arianna Fontana Wins 2018 Olympic Short-Track 500m Gold Medal

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2018

Italy's Arianna Fontana and South Korea's Choi Minjeong compete in the women's 500m short track speed skating semi-final event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT        (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

Italy's Arianna Fontana became an Olympic champion for the first time in her distinguished career on Tuesday, winning the 500-metre short-track speedskating event.

Fontana initially beat Minjeong Choi of South Korea in a photo finish in a time of 42.569 seconds, although the latter was later disqualified. It meant Yara van Kerkhof of the Netherlands was pushed into second and Kim Boutin won bronze.

Great Britain's Elise Christie, who holds the world record in this event, fell during the final and finished fourth.


1. Arianna Fontana (ITA)—42.569 

2. Yara van Kerkhof (NED)—43.256

3. Kim Boutin (CAN)—43.881


For the result in full visit the Pyeongchang website.


Fontana Wins Thrilling Final

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13:  Arianna Fontana of Italy celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Ladies' 500m Short Track Speed Skating final on day four of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 13, 201
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

There was drama from the off in the first quarter-final of the day, as one of the big favourites for gold, Marianne St-Gelais, was disqualified after a tangle on the first corner.

Then, in the second, Christie was serene in moving through to the semis, as she broke the Olympic record with a time of 42.703.

That mark was lowered again in the semi-final, as Choi raced to victory with a blistering time of 42.422. She progressed into the final as a result, along with Fontana.

Meanwhile, in the second semi, Christie recovered from a slow start to finish behind Yara van Kerkhof and ensure automatic qualification. There was also a reprieve for Boutin in that race, as she was pushed off balance by Qu Chunyu.

Matt Dickinson of The Times was enjoying the chaotic finales and suggested gold might be tough for world champion Christie based on her lane draw:

Matt Dickinson @DickinsonTimes

500m short-track makes the last lap of a keirin in the velodrome seem safe and sensible

Matt Dickinson @DickinsonTimes

Elise Christie said "I only see gold" a few weeks ago. Starting in lane 4, after a fraught semi-final, wonder if silver/bronze feels quite appealing right now (GB only has one short-track medal ever). 10 mins to find a telly....

Indeed, there were five athletes chasing a medal in the final, meaning the scramble for the first bend was always going to be frantic.

While all five competitors were still standing at the end of the first lap, there was so much close-quarter action.

Christie fell in the final again.
Christie fell in the final again.Harry How/Getty Images

The conclusion was thrilling, as Christie, in fourth at the time, tried to force herself into the top three and had her hand swept by Boutin. She dropped to the floor and saw her chances of a podium spot effectively end.

As BBC Sport's Dan Roan noted, for Christie it was a case of history repeating itself, as she crashed in Sochi four years ago:

Dan Roan @danroan

History repeats itself as GB’s Elise Christie crashes out of 500m speed-skating final in Pyeongchang

With Christie out, the battle was down to four, and the scrap for gold appeared to be between Fontana and Choi. As the pair crossed the line, it was impossible to distinguish between the two, although it was later revealed the Italian had got there first.

It was a blow for the home crowd, although things were about to get worse for Choi, as she was given a penalty and subsequently disqualified. Journalist Jaehwan Cho struggled to see where the infraction had come:

Still, it was joy for Fontana, who had won five Olympic medals prior to Tuesday without ever winning the gold. Christie will have the chance to bounce back in the 1,000- and 1,500-metres events.