Winter Olympics: S. Korea take team silver in men's speed skating

Eileen GuzmanFeb 25, 2018

And even that was in a field of 16.

The Anna Hasselborg-skipped Sweden, which entered the semifinal with two losses - to Japan and South Korea - proved much too strong for Eve Muirhead and Great Britain.

The emergence of this team is something few outside of Korea expected.

Their athletes' lack of experience and preparation showed.

At a high school in Uiseong, South Korea's new capital of curling, more than 300 hundred fans gathered around the big screen to watch their beloved "Garlic Girls" edge one step closer to an Olympic triumph with a place in the final.

After stunning top teams like Canada, Switzerland and Sweden, they were the first to advance to Friday's semifinals.

If you're going to lose at the Olympics, it's very important to the South Koreans that you at least lose with grace and character.

It could be time for soul-searching within South Korean speed skating and a culture of wanting to win at nearly any cost, Seoul's Kumin Daily newspaper reported.

Hungary's breakthrough was accompanied by a victorious moment for China, hosts of the next Winter Games in 2022, when Wu Dajing won their first gold in Pyeongchang with a world record in the men's 500m. In a two-team race to determine seventh and eighth place, the South Koreans finished in the latter.

The curlers were apparently unprepared for the fervent flag-waving home crowd that packs the stadium each time they play. Choe Myong Gwang and Kang Song Il went 74th and 75th, out of 75 finishers, in the men's giant slalom. There were 116 men in that race.

Sweden, gold medal winners in 2006 and 2010 and silver medalists in 2014, took a 2-0 lead in the second end and battled Britain to a 3-3 draw after five.

Thousands of South Koreans, meanwhile are calling for two speedskaters to be expelled from the Olympics after they left their slower teammate behind in a race defined by teamwork and walked away as she quietly sobbed at the stadium in one of the most freakish moments of this year's Winter Games.

Almost 600,000 signatures were on an online petition to South Korea's presidential office calling for skaters Kim and Park to be expelled from the Games. Despite a minor mistake with the second triple jump during her triple lutz-triple toeloop combination, the Korean figure skater kept her calm until the end to break her overall personal high.

TV cameras also caught Noh sobbing after the race and Kim and Park both ignoring her.

"Since it was the first game, we were really nervous", South Korean skip Kim Eun-jung said after the victory over the Canadians.

"It is a clear national disgrace that such people with a personality problem are representing a country in the Olympics", read the petition posted on the official website of South Korea's presidential office.

In the pursuit, the clock only stops when the final skater has crossed the line and teams usually finish with all three skaters bunched together.

The other two skaters took on the mic instead and made remarks that displeased Koreans. Cooperation is permitted, and skaters can push their teammates, literally, and strategy often calls for a faster skater to be positioned behind a slower one to do just that.

Kim had triggered public anger with comments many saw as putting the blame on Noh. But it's finished", Kim said after the race."Park Ji-woo was supposed to go out with speed, and Noh Seon-Yeong would do minimal.

"Our opponents put real pressure on us with their shots (in the 11th end). That was probably the reason".

Park said she was unaware that the skater was left behind in the heat, "because it was too loud".

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