Speed skater struggles, curlers lose as S. Korea fails to add to medal tally

By 신용배
  • Published : Feb 13, 2014 - 09:07
  • Updated : Feb 13, 2014 - 09:36

It was another unproductive day at the Sochi Winter Olympics for South Korea as a speed skating medal hopeful struggled on ice and the women's curling team fell to the top-ranked opponent.

Mo Tae-bum finished the men's 1,000 meters in 12th place in 1:09.37, nearly a full second worse than the champion, Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands. Mo won the silver in the same event four years ago in Vancouver, but walked away without a medal this time.

On Monday, he ended the 500m in fourth place, failing to defend his Olympic gold medal. He said Wednesday the disappointment still weighed on him.

"The result from the 500m did have an effect," Mo, 24, confessed. "I must admit I was down on myself."

Four years ago, Mo was one of three South Korean speed skating champions. In addition to Mo's 500m title, his two good friends, Lee Sang-hwa and Lee Seung-hoon, captured the women's 500m and the men's 10,000m gold medals, respectively. Young, exuberant and apparently immune to Olympic pressure, the trio quickly became the faces of Team Korea in Vancouver.

It has been a much different story so far in Sochi. Lee Seung-hoon, who'd also won the silver in the 5,000m in Vancouver, managed to finish only in 12th place this time. While Lee has the 10,000m and team pursuit left to try to salvage his Olympics, Mo is leaving Sochi without a medal.

Only Lee Sang-hwa has been able to duplicate her success from Vancouver, taking the women's 500m Tuesday with an Olympic record of 74.70 seconds in two races.

The gold medal remains South Korea's only medal in Sochi so far. The country has set out to win at least four gold medals to finish in the top 10 for the sixth time in seven Winter Games.

The women's curling team also had a disappointing day on Wednesday, losing to Sweden 7-4 to drop to 1-2 in the round robin phase.

Against the world No. 1, South Korea, ranked 10th, opened a 2-1 lead after four ends. The favored Swedes, however, went ahead with three points in the fifth end. Leading 5-3 after seven ends, Sweden added two more points for good measure in the eighth end.

This is the first Olympics for the South Korean curlers.

Also making their Olympic debut, Park Jin-yong and Cho Jung-myung ended in 18th place among 19 tandems in the men's doubles event in luge.

After two runs, the South Koreans posted a combined time of 1:43.118, more than four seconds slower than the gold medal duo of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany. (Yonhap)