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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ohno advances in 500 meters

 •  Parise boosts U.S. into hockey semis

Advertiser News Services

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The United States' USA-2, piloted by Erin Pac, front, with brakeman Elana Meyers, celebrate their bronze medal finish during the women's bobsled competition final at Vancouver.

MICHAEL SOHN | Associated Press

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Apolo Anton Ohno

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia Apolo Anton Ohno's advancing age is supposed to show the most in the 500 meters, the shortest, fastest race in the rough-and-tumble world of short track.

But if the 27-year-old has lost anything, he didn't show it yesterday during the first round of qualifying.

Ohno posted the fourth-fastest time of the night at 41.665 seconds and moved easily into tomorrow's competition, when the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals are scheduled. Those could be the last races of the American star's Winter Olympics career if he retires, as many expect.

Yesterday, though, Ohno resisted any notion that age has taken any toll and compared himself to when he won a gold medal in the 500 at the 2006 Turin Games.

"I like to think I have more speed," he said. "I'm going to need it if I'm going to make the final."

Simon Cho, 18, who was just off Ohno's time at 41.726, was the only other American to advance. J.R. Celski was not entered. The 500 was the event in which he was injured during the U.S. Olympic Trials and he did not accumulate enough points to qualify.

Competing in the seventh of eight heats, Ohno exhibited veteran savvy. He stayed safely away from a fall by Kazhakstan's Aidar Bekzhanov at the start and moved quickly into second place. In the final turn, he ducked past Canada's Olivier Jean and outstepped him at the finish line to win the heat.

If it seemed like a potentially risky maneuver, given that the top two qualify and he had second sewn up, Ohno explained later that rules for the race have been changed recently and starting positions are set based on time.

Ohno said having the inside lane in as many heats as possible "is a very, very, big, big advantage."

Though he's competing close to home, Seattle's Ohno won't be the crowd favorite tomorrow. Three Canadians qualified, all with times that stamp them as contenders, led by Francois-Louis Tremblay, who set an Olympic record at 41.397.

Ohno will also be entered as part of the United States' 5,000 men's relay, which is considered a long shot to win gold. Yet Ohno seemed more willing to talk about that race during a brief interview with reporters Wednesday than his individual event.

"I'm very, very excited about our relay," he said. "We're a young team, and I would love to share a medal with these guys."


The night was highlighted by controversy in the women's 3,000 relay. South Korea crossed the line first, but was disqualified for impeding the Chinese team late in the race. South Korea had won the previous four gold medals and would have become the first country to win five straight golds in a Winter Olympics.

"I don't have any clue what the referee was saying," said South Korea's Min-Jung Kim, who was called for colliding with China's Linlin Sun. "It doesn't make any sense at all."

Korea's disqualification gave China the gold, Canada the silver and the United States the bronze, the first medal for the Americans in the event since a bronze in 1994.

"Was it a little bit fluky? Maybe," said American Katherine Reutter. "But we did everything (in preparing) to deserve it."



Just a few days ago, American Erin Pac said she didn't feel safe on the Whistler Sliding Center track, then she strained her left hamstring in training.

Now she and brakeman Elana Meyers have a bronze medal, finishing behind a pair of Canadians.

This was the first U.S. medal in sliding after getting shut out in men's and women's skeleton and two-man bobsledding. However, Americans are now 3-for-3 in women's bobsled since it was added to the Olympic program.

When Canada's 1-2 finish was official, Terrance Kosicar, the paramedic who worked frantically to save Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili's life when he was killed in a training-run crash, grabbed a Canadian flag, held it high and sprinted through the final curve.



Australia's Lydia Lassila not only prevented China from sweeping the women's event, she wound up atop the podium. It's especially satisfying for her after tearing up her knee during qualifying at the Turin Games.

"Everything worked out," she said.



Marcus Hellner was so far ahead at the end of his anchor leg that he had time to collect a Swedish flag to wave as he skied to the finish of the team relay, earning his second gold medal of these Olympics and Sweden's first in this event since 1988.

Norway got silver, and the Czech Republic took bronze. The Americans were 13th.



Angela Ruggiero is at her fourth Olympics as a hockey player. She'll be around the games for the next eight years as a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Ruggiero and British skeleton racer Adam Pengilly were voted to the IOC and its athletes' commission in an election of their fellow athletes. Seven others athletes were vying for the job.



Figure skater Johnny Weir wants the French broadcasters who made derogatory comments about his masculinity to "think before they speak." He said understanding was more important than an apology.

"I don't want, 50 years from now, more boys and girls to go through this same thing," he said.



The reigning world champion British men aren't going to get a medal. They're headed home, eliminated by a Swedish team that will next face top-seeded and unbeaten Canada.