Go to contents

Ski Veteran Tries for Sixth Olympics

Posted January. 05, 2006 03:00,   


January 11 will reveal whether Heo Seung-uk, Korea’s five-time Olympian from the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics through the 2002 Salt Lake City games will be headed to Torino in February. The Fèdèration Internationale de Ski (FIS) will announce their world rankings on that day. Only those ranked in the top 500 will be allowed to compete in the Olympics. Heo’s current ranking is 528.

Heo first wore the Korean flag in 1987, and for the next 17 years, he enjoyed a place among the world’s best. He won 41 gold medals in winter competitions, but he failed to add another in last winter’s competition when he lost by narrow margins to Gang Min-hyeok (25, Yong-pyeong Resort) and Kim Hyeong-cheol (25, Gangwon Land).

What drives him to try again for Olympics despite the burden of his age?

“I quit the national team six or seven years ago because I wanted to give younger players a chance. The 2003 Aomori Winter Asian Game was the last international competition I participated in. However, the Korea Ski Association urged me to take part in another Olympics. I got ambitious knowing that I still have what it takes to win.”

Competing in six consecutive Olympic games is something rarely seen.

Heo has been preparing for the Olympics by training four hours a day since last summer. He raised his FIS ranking by competing in four international competitions, including the New Zealand Cup in August. He also works as a manager in Jisan Resort’s racing school. “I have been so busy that I can’t see my newborn son as often as I want,” said Heo.

The veteran had some criticism for younger athletes. “I expect better from younger athletes. They shouldn’t let an old man like me come close to them in the race. They should be able to wear me out.”

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com