South Korean men and women failed to reach the cross-country skiing team sprint final at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Wednesday.
The women's team, comprising Lee Chae-won and Ju Hye-ri, posted a time of 19 minutes, 19.17 seconds to finish last among 11 teams in the first semifinal group and was denied entry to the final round.
At the PyeongChang Olympics, there are two heats in the semifinal round. The top two teams in each heat advance directly to the final, while six lucky losers can also join them. In the women's team sprint free, two skiers race a total of 7.5 kilometers, taking turns over six laps.
Norway and Switzerland were the top two qualifiers from the first semifinal heat, while the United States and Sweden finished first and second, respectively, in the second semifinal heat for the women's competition. Six teams -- Slovenia, Germany, Finland, Poland, France and the Olympic Athletes from Russia -- also qualified for the final.
Lee finished her first lap in 2:52.46, 19.74 seconds behind Marit Bjoergen, who took the lead for Norway. But the margin became larger during the event at Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. South Korea was the only team in the event that failed to finish the race within 18 minutes.
This was the first time that South Korea sent cross-country skiers to the women's team sprint since the event was first introduced at the Olympic Games in 2006.
On the men's side, where contestants have to race a total of 8.4km, the team consisting of Kim Magnus and Kim Eun-ho finished 13th among 14 teams in the first semifinal group, with a time of 17:56.71, and also failed to progress to the final.
South Korea took surprising second place after the first lap with Magnus's effort, but dropped to 12th place after Eun-ho's second lap.
The OAR team won the first semifinal group at 15:58.84, followed by Sweden at 15:58.99. They were joined by top two finishers in the semifinal group -- Norway and France -- in the final along with six lucky losers: Germany, the US, Finland, Italy, Canada and the Czech Republic.