Ahn advances to 500m speedskating quarterfinals in record quest

BY foxsports • February 18, 2014

SOCHI, Russia -- Viktor Ahn of Russia easily advanced to the 500-meter quarterfinals on Tuesday, putting him in position to become the first skater to win an Olympic gold medal in all four individual short track events.

The South Korea-born Ahn made it safely through his heat, cheered loudly by the mostly Russian crowd at Iceberg Skating Palace. He won his adopted country's first gold in the capricious sport in the 1,000, and earned a bronze in the 1,500. Ahn became a Russian citizen in 2011, after winning three gold medals for South Korea at the 2006 Winter Games.

In the biggest surprise, Charles Hamelin of Canada was leading on the last lap of his heat when he crashed and smashed into the pads. It appeared he caught a blade in the turn and went down. He won gold in the 1,500 on the first day of short track in Sochi.

Hamelin's crash cleared the way for Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands to win the heat. Kneght won his country's first short track when he took bronze in the 1,000 last weekend.

J.R. Celski of Federal Way, Wash., was the lone American to advance in his last individual event. Celski, who was fourth in the 1,500, finished second to Olivier Jean of Canada in his heat. Eddy Alvarez of Miami, Fla., who was third at the time, crashed in the turn and was eliminated. Jordan Malone of Denton, Texas, finished last in his heat.

Among other skaters moving on to Friday's quarterfinals were Park Se-yeong and Lee Han-bin of South Korea, Wu Dajing, Liang Wenhao and 1,500 silver medalist Han Tianyu of China, and Vladimir Grigorev of Russia, the silver medalist in the 1,000.

Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands was advanced to the quarterfinals of the women's 1,000 after tripping on a falling skater, keeping alive her bid to win Olympic medals in both short and long track speedskating.

The Dutchwoman already won a gold medal in the 1,500 at the big oval.

She was skating second behind leader Marianne St-Gelais early in her short track heat when the Canadian fell in the turn. Ter Mors tripped on her rival and staggered to the ice, but both women got up and finished.

Deanna Lockett of Australia won the heat ahead of Veronika Windisch of Austria. After a review, judges advanced Ter Mors to the next round, while St-Gelais was eliminated.

The only big name not advancing was Liu Qiuhong of China, who was disqualified after impeding Martina Valcepina of Italy while trying to move into second.

Among those moving on to Friday's quarterfinals were South Koreans Shim Suk-hee, Park Seung-hi and Kim Alang. They were joined by Arianna Fontana of Italy, Li Jianrou and Fan Kexin of China, and Elise Christie of Britain, who won her heat by the biggest margin of any skater.

Jessica Smith of Melvindale, Mich., finished second in her heat and gained a spot in the quarterfinals.

"I wanted to be up front. That's where I wanted to stay no matter what," she said. "It's about positioning and hopefully I can stay with what I'm doing and keep focused and get some good races."

Joining Smith was Emily Scott of Springfield, Mo., who was carried wide by another skater, forcing her to lose ground. Scott dug in and rallied to edge Inna Simonova of Kazakhstan in a photo finish for second.

Katerina Novotna of the Czech Republic fell in the turn with two laps to go, carrying Scott wide on the track. Novotna had her hand on Scott's left knee before she crashed and was disqualified. 

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