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Lee Seung-hoon wins bronze in mass start competition

Posted November. 24, 2014 05:14,   


Is it short track or speed skating competition?

The second event of the ISU Speed Skating World Cup 2014/2015 season took place at Taeneung International Skating Rink in Seoul on Saturday. An unlikely situation happened in the place where speed skating competition was underway. Twenty-six skaters wearing helmets sprang forth from the start line at the starting signal en masse. Passing other players without division of lanes and skating with their hands in the back, they looked exactly like skating in a short track race. As the athletes engaged in a fierce competition, spectators displayed a battle of cheering and rooting there as well.

The competition held on the day was "mass start," a new category in speed skating. ISU decided to adopt mass start as an official category at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and requested the International Olympic Committee for approval. ISU has included mass start competitions in all World Cups excluding the sixth event in this season.

In the mass start race, multiple skaters start together at once, and engage in speed race, skating without division of lanes. Up to two skaters per country can participate in the race, and both males and females skate a total of 16 laps (6,400 meters). A player who crosses the checkpoint first at fourth, eighth and 12th laps is given five points, and the runner-up is granted three points, and the third-place skater one point. The skater who crosses the finish line first at 16th lap is given 60 points, and the runner-up and third-place skaters are given 40 points and 20 points, respectively. As the score points of the final lap is much larger, the medal rankings are determined according to the order of players crossing the finish line. As for the fourth and below rankings, those who scored more points at fourth, eighth and 12th labs are in advantageous position to win. Rankings of players who failed to win score points will be determined based on the time of finish line crossing.

Lee Seung-hoon, 26, who won the gold medal in mass start in this season’s first event, started accelerating just ahead of the final lap in the group of mid-ranking skaters, but failed to narrow the gap, and only managed to win the bronze. Lee said, “We had problems with teamwork today. I realized once again that a short track skater-turned speed skater is more advantageous in mass start. It is a competition in which a short track skater-turned speed skater can have many advantages, including in cornering or managing of the race.” If mass start is adopted as an official sport, chances are high that it will become a new bonanza for the Korean national team that has many short track skater-turned speed skaters.

In the second race of women’s 500-meter Division A, Lee Sang-hwa, 25, dubbed "the emperor of speed skating," won the gold medal with a time of 37.99 seconds on Saturday. Mo Tae-beom, 25, acquired the silver medal with a time of 35.32 seconds in the second race of men’s 500-meter Division A to clinch the silver in two consecutive competitions the same day.