That’s Olympic short-track. Another good day to toss out that phrase, with two favorites down in the quarterfinals. And do you think South Korea regrets keeping Hyun-Soo Ahn out of the 2010 Olympics and letting him slip away to Russia as Viktor Ahn?
Sport: Short-track speedskating
Event: Men’s 1,000 meters
Medalists: Viktor Ahn (Russia), Vladimir Gregorev (Russia), Sjinkie Knegt (Netherlands)
SportsMyriad projections: Charles Hamelin (Canada), Viktor Ahn (Russia), J.R. Celski (USA)
How U.S. fared: All three went out in the quarterfinals. Chris Creveling was just a hair slower than the top two in his race.
J.R. Celski simply tripped over one of the little markers in the turns. He skidded into the padding and didn’t finish the race.
Eddy Alvarez was unlucky. Canadian favorite Charles Hamelin fell just in front of him. Alvarez had no chance to avoid Hamelin, and they went together into the pads. The judges, though, saw no reason to advance Alvarez to the semifinals.
What happened: Utter carnage in the quarterfinals, with favorites Hamelin and Celski out along with all the other North Americans and most of the Western Europeans. The semifinals wound up with two South Koreans, two Chinese skaters and three Russians. The Netherlands’ Sjinkie Knegt was the outsider.
First semifinal: The two Korean skaters settled to the back for the first couple of laps. Han-Bin Lee tried to pass in a corner but barged into Knegt. Lee drifted to the outside and let the contenders lap him, as if expecting the DQ. Russia’s Vladimir Gregorev and South Korea’s Da Woon Sin easily advanced, and Knegt was sent through to the final on Lee’s DQ.
Second semifinal: The two Russians settled in behind the two Chinese skaters. Wu Dajing kept taking a wide turn. With two laps to go, the Russians pounced and got ahead of Han Tianyu. Then Viktor Ahn got ahead of Wu, but Elistratov was unable to make it a three-Russian final.
So we still had a powerhouse final with half of the 2013 World Championship final — Sin and Knegt but not Hamelin and Celski. And Grigorev had been a semifinalist in that event. Ahn was second in the 2013-14 World Cup season, and he just happened to win this event while competing for South Korea in 2006. Wu also had a strong resume.
The B final — always important because the winner can grab a medal if a couple of skaters are disqualified from the A final — had just two skaters thanks to Knegt’s advancement and Lee’s penalty.
Then the big moment, and the two Russians just took control. Ahn and Grigorev weren’t seriously challenged and finished 1-2. Knegt passed the surprisingly lethargic Sin for bronze. Sin was later penalized and dropped to fifth, with Wu a close fourth behind Knegt.
(BTW, we’re still saying “Ahn” rather than “An” until we get an actual explanation as to why the “h” should be dropped. Changing from “Hyun-Soo” to “Viktor” when changing countries makes sense, but why one letter of the last name? Translation from Korean to Russian and then English?)