Apolo Anton Ohno wanted everything to be perfect leading into these Games, so he changed virtually nothing from 2002. He kept the bandanas, the flowing hair, the tuft of beard. He even kept his life almost exactly the same, despite having won a gold and a silver medal at the 2002 Games, staying in the same dormitories at the U.S. Olympic Training Center at which he stayed leading up to his first Olympics.
But there is one thing Ohno wants to do differently: the 500 meters.
At the 2002 Games, Ohno was disqualified from his last individual race, the quarterfinals of the 500, on an impeding penalty. The U.S. team's subsequent stumble in the relay -- U.S. skater Rusty Smith tripped -- ended Ohno's quest for four gold medals while Canadian Marc Gagnon stole the headlines, capturing his fifth.
Though Ohno prefers not to focus on medal goals, he surely would like to achieve more in the 500 at these Games, but in a sport known for its skewed results because of its roller-derby style, anything can happen in any race -- particularly this one, the equivalent of track and field's 100-meter dash. For all of his success, Ohno has led the overall World Cup standings in the 500 in just one season, five years ago, and only one of his eight world championship medals has come in the 500 -- and that was in 1999. He will be challenged today by South Korea's Ahn Hyun Soo and China's Li Jiajun and possibly a handful of others from South Korea, China and Canada.