Women’s short track team determined to win back world-best title
Women’s curling team participating for the first time…
Lee Chae-won, a fearless cross country skier and a mother also joins
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will begin in about a month. The games will begin on Feb. 8th (local time) and last for 17 days through the 24th. Athletes from around the world will compete to win gold medals in 98 events in 15 sports including ski and ice skating. Team Korea’s goal is to win over 4 gold medals and rank at least 7th, which will make us one of the top 10 medal winning countries for 3 years in a row.
While Korea has been selected as the host of the 2018 Pyongchang winter Olympics, the team Korea this year is going to have the most number of athletes in history. One of the watching points this winter will be our female athletes’ stellar performance. Here are some of the women in sports who will make Sochi games all the more exciting for us.
“Figure queen’s grand finale: Aiming to win another gold medal”
The world is watching the queen’s last dance. Kim Yuna(age 24, All That Sports Corp.) is planning to wrap up her professional career as a figure skater after the Sochi games. After becoming the Olympic champion in Vancouver in 2010, everyone’s excited to see whether Kim would win the gold once again this year, writing a whole new chapter for women’s figure skating.
Kim won the 2014 Korean National Championship at Goyang Oulimnuri Ice Rink at Gyeonggi Province, by scoring 227.86 points in total (80.60 in the short program, 147.26 in free skate). No one stands in her way towards the second Olympic championship title any more: her victory depends only on herself.
Kim, if she wins a gold medal in Sochi, will become the 3rd female figure skater in the world to win two Olympic gold medals in a row after Norway’s Sonja Henie (active from 1928 to 1936) and East Germany’s Katarina Witt (active from 1984 to 1988). Kim has already set world record in the last Olympics with 228.56 points in Vancouver, so whether she’s going to break the 230.00 points will be of great interest for many viewers.
“Ice queen Lee Sang-hwa: Will she set a new world record?”
Another ice queen expected bring home a gold medal this year is Lee Sang-hwa (age 25, Seoul City). She became the first female speed skater in Asia to win the Olympic championship in Vancouver and set the world record whopping four times last year in women’s 500m race.
Lee came in 36.80 seconds in women’s 500m race at the 6th round of the 2012~2013 ISU World Cup held last Jan. and set world record 3 consecutive times in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the 2013~2014 World Cup. Her performance on 100m race, which used to be pointed out as her major weakness, has made much improvement, and the fact that she lost weight adds to many Olympic viewers’ expectation on her victory this year.
“Young ‘savior’ Shim Suk-hee: On her way to win back Korea’s title in short track speed skating”
Korea was traditionally known as the strongest country in short track speed skating, but the Korean skaters’ performance in Vancouver 2010, resulted in only two gold medals, left many to think that they could’ve done better. Women skaters especially took it hard, as they finished the games without earning a single gold medal. That is why this year’s games bear a huge importance for the female skaters. One of them that’s expected to lead the team to a victory is Shim Suk-hee (Sehwa Girls’ Highschool), a 17-year-old skater.
Shim, believed to continue the legacy of Korea’s legendary skaters such as Jeon I-Gyeong and Jin Sun-yu, has already won three titles at the 1st round of the 2012~2013 ISU Short Track World Cup, which was her first international games. She went on to win 10 gold medals in a row through the 4th round of the 2013~2014 World Cup, making Korea’s skating fans hopeful once again.
Gangneung-based Shim’s biggest rival this year is China’s Wang Meng (age 29). Experts say defeating Wang isn’t a problem for Shim, a 173-cm tall, agile, and flexible skater.
Cho Hye-ri (age 27, Goyang City), who had come back without a medal from Vancouver even after finishing the women’s 3000m race first, will also aim for a gold medal in Sochi, which probably will be her last Olympic games.
“Korea sends a women’s curling team for the first time: How far would they go?”
Korea’s women’s curling team, who showed sensational performance in various international games last year, also won their ticket to Sochi. Curling is a sport where two teams of four players slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target of four concentric rings.
Kim Ji-sun (age 26, captain), Shin Mi-seong (age 35), Lee Seul-bi (age 23), Kim Eun-ji (age 23) and Um Min-ji (age 22) are the members of the national curling team (originally plays for Kyounggi Province). After being formed in 2012, the team advanced to the semi-finals at the World Curling Championship. In Sep. 2013 at China Open, Team Korea won over Canada, a traditional curling power, and won the title. In Nov. last year, the team defeated China in come-from-behind win to snatch the title for Asia-Pacific Curling Championship.
The team’s goal for this year’s games is to win a medal, regardless of the color. The world ranking of the team as of last year was 10th, which makes them the weakest team among the players in Sochi, but soaring to the medals isn’t all that impossible as long as they can continue the momentum.
“Never give up!: Lee Chae-won, a cross-country skier and a mother”
Another player to watch is Lee Chae-won (Gyeonggi-do Sports Council), a 33-year old cross-country skier. While cross-country, mainly dominated by European players, is one of the less popular sports in Korea, her dedication to the sport for the past two decades is being praised by many. She began skiing in 1994 when she was a middle school 1st grader, following her teacher’s recommendation. She won her first gold medal in 1996 at the National Sports Festival. She ran for 17 events since then through 2013, winning 51 gold medals. At 2011 Astana-Almaty Asian Winter Games, she won the first gold medal as a Korean cross-country skier.
Her performance goes beyond peoples’ expectation for a 150 centimeter-tall woman with a 3-year old daughter. Sochi is Lee’s fourth Olympic games already. Her scores in the past Olympics weren’t so impressive, with her personal best was set in Vancouver at 54th place out of 78 players (women’s 10km free). However, she aims to make top 30: her strongest event is 30km free.
She retired in 2012 after having a daughter but came back to the sport scene soon, so she can be a mother that makes her daughter proud. Olympic fans will keep a close eye on her, who says that her goal is to stay active till Pyongchang games as well.