Sochi recap: Short-track speedskating, women’s relay

South Korea won a thriller ahead of China, and then it didn’t really matter because China was disqualified anyway. That’s short track. In the early heats of two individual events, two Canadian favorites unfortunately crashed out, but the Canadian women took silver in the relay.

Date: 18-Feb

Sport: Short-track speedskating

Event: Women’s relay, plus the first round of heats in the men’s 500 and women’s 1,000.

Medalists: South Korea, Canada, Italy

SportsMyriad projections: China, South Korea, Canada

How U.S. fared: Didn’t qualify to bring a team to Sochi.

Jessica Smith and Emily Scott advanced in the women’s 1,000, the latter by 0.014 seconds.

Eddy Alvarez’s hard-luck Olympics continued as he wiped out in the men’s 500. Jordan Malone had enough of a slip to finish a distant fourth in his heat. But J.R. Celski advanced comfortably.

What happened: Italy faded off the pace about a third of the way into the race. Canada dropped away a bit as well but came back quickly.

But this race was always China vs. South Korea, and they traded the lead back and forth as they pulled away from Canada with six laps to go. China took the lead, but South Korea’s Suk Hee Shim made a thrilling pass on the outside to take the win. Canada came across in third.

But wait! The referees huddled, and China was disqualified. Canada moved up to silver, and Italy — left behind in the race — took bronze.

Technically, Russia finished fourth, having won the B final ahead of Japan and Hungary.

In the women’s 1,000 meters, two Canadians had dramatically different fates. Valerie Maltais set an Olympic record at 1:28.771. Marianne St. Gelais crashed out. St. Gelais also took out Dutch skater Jorien ter Mors, who already has a gold medal in long-track skating and a fourth-place finish in short-track in these Games, but the referees advanced her Mors to the next round.

Britain’s Elise Christie, disqualified at different stages of her two events so far (much to the British media’s consternation, though the replays in each case were quite clear), took no chances in her heat, racing away to win by more than two seconds.

All three South Korean skaters won their heats. Two of three Chinese skaters advanced; Liu Qiuhong was disqualified. And Italian favorite Arianna Fontana won her heat to join the party.

In the men’s 500 meters, the shocker was Canada’s Charles Hamelin, leading by several feet in his heat and simply slipping off into the padding on a curve. He was the only favorite not to advance. The defending champion’s Olympics are done — he took gold in the 1,500 but had incidents that took him out of the 1,000, the relay and now the 500.

Full results: Relay, men’s 500, women’s 1,000

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