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(LEAD) (Olympics) S. Korea crashes and burns early in inaugural short track mixed relay

All News 22:18 February 05, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS details throughout, photos)
By Yoo Jee-ho

BEIJING, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea fell well shy of a medal in short track speed skating's mixed team relay on Saturday, unable to make history in the inaugural Olympic event in Beijing after a disastrous fall.

The quartet of Choi Min-jeong, Lee Yu-bin, Hwang Dae-heon and Park Jang-hyuk got knocked out of the quarterfinals at Capital Indoor Stadium.

There were 12 teams divided into three races in the quarterfinals. The top two teams from each race and the two fastest third-place teams qualified for the semifinals.

South Korean short track speed skaters leave the ice at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Feb. 5, 2022, after finishing third in their quarterfinal heat of the mixed team relay at the Beijing Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

South Korea had a time of 2:48.308 to finish third in its race, after Park Jang-hyuk lost his balance and fell with three laps to go.

The United States finished third in the third quarterfinal race, and had the best time among No. 3 teams at 2:39.043. Kazakhstan also snuck into the semifinals at 2:43.004 out of the second race.

In the mixed relay, each race is 2,000m long, or 18 laps, and teams each had two female and two male skaters. All races started with the two female skaters, followed by the two male skaters. They each covered two and a half laps on their first leg and two laps on their second leg.

Park Jang-hyuk of South Korea crashes into the padding during the mixed team relay in short track speed skating at the Beijing Winter Olympics at Capital Indoor Arena in Beijing on Feb. 5, 2022. (Yonhap)

Choi opened the race in third place, behind China and Italy. Lee was next but wasn't able to narrow the gap. South Korea still hung back in third place after both Hwang and Park had completed their first legs, with China and Italy enjoying a sizable lead over the pack. Poland was bringing up the rear.

South Korea remained in third place with the end of the race fast approaching. Then Park momentarily lost his balance over a corner and fell without contact. There weren't enough laps left for South Korea to recover.

South Korea had to wait and see if its third-place time would hold up, but Park's late fall proved too costly.

South Korean short track speed skater Lee Yu-bin (L) consoles her teammate Park Jang-hyuk after Park's fall during the quarterfinals of the mixed team relay at the Beijing Winter Olympics at Capital Indoor Stadium on Feb. 5, 2022. (Yonhap)

Saturday was the first full day of competition after the opening ceremony the previous night. The mixed team relay was the first event in which South Korea had a legitimate shot at winning a medal, but the squad didn't even get out of the opening phase.

Earlier Saturday, heats for the women's 500m and the men's 1,000m were held. Choi advanced to the quarterfinals in the former, and Hwang, Park and Lee June-seo moved on to the quarters in the latter.

Hwang set an Olympic record with 1:23.042 in his heat.

The quarters, semifinals and the finals for those two events are scheduled for Monday, back at Capital Indoor Stadium.

Choi Min-jeong of South Korea (R) competes in the quarterfinals of the mixed team relay in short track speed skating at the Beijing Winter Olympics at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on Feb. 5, 2022. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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