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World Lauds Korea’s Short-Track Skills

Posted February. 27, 2006 03:00,   


Controversies have dogged the Korean national short-track skating team, including allegations of physical abuse by the coaching staff in 2004, and more recently, a factional rivalry among the athletes of the national team. But the trouble-ridden team has displayed its best performance ever in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics. To achieve such success despite discord proves the stability and strength of Korean short-track skating.

Since Kim Ki-hun won Korea’s first winter Olympics gold medal in short-track skating in the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, where short-track skating was first adopted, Korea has been continuing its short-track prestige. The Korean national team has been credited with inventing various new skating techniques that have become the norm nowadays, such as the “blade push [at the finish line]”; “gourd-shape curving”; and “one-legged skating.”

The current coaching staff has executed a delicate strategy that considers the characteristics of each athlete and the ice condition of that day in winning gold medals in both the men’s and women’s relay races. A relay race is quite different from a singles race; it requires a well-rounded group of athletes and an excellent strategy to win.

It seems that winning does not solve everything. The team’s coaching staff and the Korean Skating Union alike acknowledged the seriousness of factional disputes within the national team. “We all have to get our heads together and find a way to deal with this fast, otherwise this factional rivalry will seriously disrupt the sport someday,” said coach Park Sae-wu. “Short-track skating is full of variables; the success we had in this Olympics doesn’t guarantee anything in future Olympics.”

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com