South Korean stars moved on to the next stage with relative ease at the International Skating Union World Cup Short Track Speed Skating on home ice Friday.
Choi Min-jeong and Shim Suk-hee advanced to the quarterfinals in the women's 1,000 meters at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul. In the men's 1,000, Seo Yi-ra, Lim Hyo-jun and Hwang Dae-heon also reached the quarterfinals.
Choi and Shim were the fastest skaters in their respective heats. The top two skaters from each of the seven groups, plus the six fastest third-place skaters, qualified for the quarterfinals.
A third South Korean, Kim A-lang, was disqualified in her heat.
All three South Korean men won their heats. There were eight groups for men, and the top two from each, along with the four fastest third-place skaters, advanced to the quarters.
Choi Min-jeong of South Korea (L, front) competes in the women`s 1,000-meter heats at the International Skating Union World Cup Short Track Speed Skating at Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)
The quarterfinals for both races, followed by the semifinals and finals, will take place Sunday, the last day of the competition.
The South Korean women won their heat in the 3,000m relay to advance to Saturday's semifinals.
Noh Ah-rum, Kim Ye-jin, Lee Yu-bin and Kim A-lang edged out Hungary.
South Korea has won two gold medals and one silver medal in the women's relay through three World Cups this season.
The men's team also reached the semifinals in the 5,000m relay. The quartet of Lim, Hwang, Kwak Yoon-gy and Park Se-yeong finished second to the United States in their heat.
South Korean men have yet to win a World Cup relay title this season, their silver medal last wekeend in Shanghai being their best finish so far.
In both relays, the top two nations each from four heats qualified for the semis.
Saturday will see the finals for the men's and women's 500m and 1,500m, as well as semifinals for the men's 5,000m relay and women's 3,000m relay take place.
Shim and Choi are also in the quarterfinals for the 500m and the semfinals in the 1,500m. On the men's side, Lim, Kwak and Kim Do-kyoum have made it to the quarters in the 500, and Hwang, Lim and Seo are in the 1,500 semifinals.
This is the final qualifying event for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. South Korea is guaranteed five men and five women in all races as the Olympic host, but it will only be able to send one skater each in those races.
The country will instead try to lock down maximum quota spaces on merit. In individual races, each country can have up to three skaters.
A total of 110 Olympic spots, 55 each for men and women, are up for grabs. At World Cups, individual skaters and relay teams each earn 10,000 points for gold, 8,000 for silver, 6,400 for bronze and so forth. In the 500 meters and 1,000 meters for both men and women, 32 quota spots are up for grabs. In the 1,500 for both, the maximum is 36. And eight teams apiece will compete in the men's 5,000-meter and women's 3,000-meter relays.
South Korea leads all nations with 21 Olympic short track gold medals all-time. (Yonhap)