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S. Korean sliders make triumphant return home after banner seasons

All Headlines 17:57 March 01, 2016

INCHEON, March 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean sliders made a triumphant return home Tuesday after successful seasons in bobsleigh and skeleton, having raised hopes for the country's first Olympic medals in their sports.

The two-man bobsleigh team of Won Yun-jong and Seo Young-woo ended the 2015-2016 International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (IBSF) season as the world's No. 1, thanks to two gold and three silver medals at eight IBSF World Cup races. Though they ranked seventh at the world championships, they were still able to end the season as the top-ranked tandem.

Skeleton slider Yun Sung-bin secured the No. 2 IBSF ranking on the strength of one gold, three silver and two bronze medals from eight World Cup races. He also won a historic silver medal at the world championships, becoming the first Asian to reach the world podium in his sport.

Their strong performances bode well for host South Korea's chances at the 2018 Winter Olympics at their home track in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. The Alpensia Sliding Centre is nearing completion, and the sliders will have test runs on the new track from Wednesday to Sunday.

They will then have two days off before returning to training on March 10.

Yun, a 21-year-old who only picked up skeleton about three years ago, said he shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as other top sliders, namely world No. 1 Martins Dukurs. The dominant Latvian won seven out of eight World Cup races, his only defeat when going up against Yun in February in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

"I did much better than I'd expected," Yun said. "But I still have a long way to go. If I can keep improving for PyeongChang, I think I'll be able to smile two years later (at the Olympics)."

Yun said he doesn't think much of his victory over Dukurs -- "I only beat him once in eight World Cups," he said -- but did acknowledge it was a boost to his confidence.

"Last season, I didn't think I could even get close to Dukurs," Yun said. "But I don't feel that way anymore. I think I'll be able to keep closing in on him."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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