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S. Koreans Win Golds; U.S. Out of Relay Early

By Alan Robinson
Associated Press
Tuesday, February 17, 1998; 10:59 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan — Here's a change: Cathy Turner skated an Olympic short track speedskating race without controversy. Here's another: the United States didn't medal.

The American 3,000-meter women's relay team, which won a silver medal at Albertville and a bronze at Lillehammer, finished fourth and last in a difficult heat today and didn't make the finals.

Three-time U.S. Olympian Andy Gabel of Northbrook, Ill., benefited from two disqualifications in his three 1,000-meter heats and reached the finals, but placed fourth.

South Korea took both gold medals, its first in Nagano — 1997 world champion Kim Dong-Sung in the 1,000 meters and the women's relay team, which also won at Lillehammer in 1994.

Kim was so excited about the double gold that he stuck around for the relay team's news conference, happily pointing to his gold medal as the relay racers entered the room wearing theirs.

"I still don't know — is this a dream or is it true?'' Kim said.

It was the first time since short track became a medal sport in 1992 that the United States didn't medal in the women's relay. It also was the only chance for Turner, a two-time gold medalist, to become the second American female Winter Olympian to win five medals. Bonnie Blair won six.

The Americans (Amy Peterson, Erin Porter, Turner and Caroline Hallisey) finished in 4 minutes, 33.352 seconds, well behind heat winner South Korea (4:21.51), China (4:22.34) and North Korea (4:25.126). They were even lapped by the South Koreans late in the race.

"I enjoy it,'' Turner said of difficult heat. "I'm not the type of person who's afraid of anybody, but I think the other girls were intimidated by that — and I know our coaches were.''

Turner survived several collisions and controversies, including allegations she was a dirty skater, to win the 500-meter gold medals in 1992 and 1994. Now 35, she didn't qualify in the U.S. trials and won't skate that race in Nagano.

The Americans made one change, substituting Erin Gleason for Hallisey, and won the consolation heat in 4:26.25 to place fifth. South Korea defended the Olympic title it won with a team that averaged 15½ years of age in 1994, edging China in the finals as both broke the world record.

South Korea, which returned three of the four skaters from Lillehammer, won in 4 minutes, 16.26 seconds to China's 4:16.383. Canada, the 1992 gold medalist, took the bronze in 4:21.205.

"It's not that we have special techniques or secrets, but that we train hard,'' said Chun Lee-Kyung of the South Koreans' eighth gold medal since short track became a medal sport in 1992. "And we have such a strong bond among the players that we almost become one.''

Kim trailed most of the 1,000-meter race but stuck his right knee across the finish line to edge China's Li Jiajun in the men's 1,000 — the same knee he badly hurt as a junior high student.

"It was a problem with my tendon,'' he said. "But my coach and my mother convinced me I could overcome it and win.''

Kim's daring move made him a winner in 1 minute, 32.375 seconds to Li's 1:32.428. Eric Bedard of Canada was third in 1:32.661 and Gabel was fourth in 1:33.518. South Korea has won six of the seven men's medals awarded in short track.

"I was waiting and waiting, and it set up the way I thought it would, I was going to try to go by the Korean, but I slipped and I couldn't recover,'' said Gabel, who at 33 is 15 years older than several teammates.

The world record holder, Marc Gagnon of Canada, was disqualified for interference — a reversal of four years ago, when he didn't skate in the finals, yet got the bronze because of two such disqualifications. Britain's Nicholas Gooch, the 1994 silver medalist, also was disqualified, as were Japan's Hitoshi Uematsu and Italy's Michele Antonioli.

Scott Koons, 21, of Cleveland had a tough draw and didn't advance out of his first-round 1,000-meter heat. Rusty Smith, 18, of Sunset Beach, Calif., fell on the final lap of his quarterfinal and finished last.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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