Olympic Notebook

U.S. women awarded bronze in short-track speedskating after South Korea is disqualified

By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 25, 2010

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- In another almost unfathomable result, South Korea lost an apparent medal in short-track speedskating, and the United States was the beneficiary.

A U.S. team that finished fourth in the women's 3,000-meter relay at Pacific Coliseum on Wednesday night got bumped into the bronze medal position when the South Koreans, who had crossed the finish line first, were disqualified several minutes after the race.

The South Korean women, thinking they had won their fifth straight Olympic gold medal in the event, celebrated together on the ice, carrying their nation's flag. The U.S. women, meantime, slunk around dejectedly with their heads down.

But the rink officials cited a Korean skater for impeding China's Sun Linlin, giving the favored Chinese the gold with their finish in 4 minutes 06.610 seconds. Canada moved up to second in 4:09.137 and the United States got third in 4:14.081.

It was the first Olympic medal of any kind for U.S. women in short track since 1994.

"I don't have any clue what the referee was saying," South Korean Kim Min-jung said. "It doesn't make any sense at all."

When the officials results were posted, Americans Allison Baver, Alyson Dudek, Lana Gehring and Katherine Reutter immediately grabbed a U.S. flag for a victory lap.

"On the one hand, it's not the best way to get a medal; on the other hand, we deserved this," Reutter said. "There's no reason for us to be disappointed at all."

The Korean team featured Cho Ha-ri, Kim, Lee Eun-byul and Park Seung-Hi. Earlier in the Games, American Apolo Anton Ohno claimed a 1,500 bronze medal after two South Korean skaters wiped out on the last turn. And in 2002, Ohno got a gold in 1,500 after a South Korean who finished first was disqualified.

The Americans said they were not aware of the violation, but waited for the official results to be posted because disqualifications are not uncommon in the sport's often wild relay event.

"Right away I was in shock, then I cried, then I laughed, then I cried again," Dudek said. "There's nothing like short-track speedskating."

In other news, Laurel's Simon Cho, 18, fell behind at the start of his 500 qualifying heat but made two inside moves to climb to second behind Korean Lee Ho-suk. Cho hung on, easily qualifying for Friday's quarterfinals.

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