|Korea’s short-track speed skaters (Yonhap News)|
South Korean short-track speed skaters said Wednesday they are ready to grab medals at the upcoming Sochi Olympics and shake off pressure that is sure to accompany the most decorated short-track country in Winter Games history.
Twelve short-trackers, six each for men’s and women’s teams, along with their coaches met the press during a media day event held at Taeneung International Skating Rink in northern Seoul.
Both teams are short on Olympic experience. Of the six male skaters, only Lee Ho-suk has previously competed in the quadrennial event, having participated in the past two Winter Games. Park Seung-hi, Cho Ha-ri and Lee Eun-byul are the carryovers from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games on the women’s unit.
Yoon Jae-myung, head coach of the men’s team, acknowledged that his skaters may not all be seasoned, but that won’t prevent them from winning medals in Russia next February.
“We’re concentrating on improving techniques and race management skills,” he said. “Short-track is such a fickle sport, and it’s difficult to predict the exact number of medals we will win. But if everything goes well, we should post good results.”
South Korea leads all countries with 19 gold medals in Olympic short-track competitions. The country has won 45 medals in Winter Olympics, and 37 of them have come from short-track.
Yoon said there is little that coaches or athletes can do to alleviate the burden of expectations and they will have to learn to live with it. Lee Ho-suk, the silver medalist in men’s 1,000 meters in Vancouver, said skaters won’t always need prior experience to deal with pressure and put together good performances at the Olympics.
“In my first Olympics (in 2006 in Torino, Italy), I didn’t get nervous at all, and I was able to skate to my abilities,” Lee recalled. “I think our young guys can do well in Sochi without any Olympic experience. They’re already world-class skaters and they don’t need my advice (on getting ready for Sochi).” (Yonhap News)