Beijing Olympics Short Track Speedskating

Kristen Santos of the United States races in her quarterfinal of the women’s 1500-meters during the short track speedskating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Wednesday in Beijing. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

BEIJING — Oh no, it was a short track shutout for the Americans at the Beijing Olympics.

A program that has struggled to recapture the buzz and success it had when Apolo Anton Ohno was the star attraction failed to win a medal for the first time since 1998.

The blanking was complete when Kristen Santos, the team’s best hope for a medal, suffered more bad fortune Wednesday and wound up only making the “B” final in the women’s 1,500 meters, the final event of short track.

“Obviously, there’s things out of my control that have kept me off of the podium and off of what I know I’m capable of,” Santos said. “That’s definitely disappointing. It’s going to take a little time for me to totally reconcile with that.”

Over six days of competition at Capital Indoor Stadium, Santos was the only American skater to even qualify for a medal final.

In the 1,000, she was in a contention for the podium when Italian star Arianna Fontana took her out.

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Fontana wound up being penalized, but that didn’t do Santos any good. She wound up fourth – a distant 14 seconds behind the bronze medalist in what turned out to be the best showing by an American skater in Beijing.

It was more of the same in Santos’ final event, the 1,500.

She advanced to the semifinals and was trying to position herself to move on to the “A” final when Hungary’s Petra Jaszapati made an illegal pass on the curve, causing Japan’s Sumire Kikuchi to crash.

Oh her way down, Kikuchi nudged into Santos, who stumbled and lost all momentum as the rest of the pack pulled away.

Jaszapati was DQed, but the referee – who has wide discretion – merely advanced Santos and Kikuchi to the consolation final.

That pretty much ended any hopes of coming away with a medal.

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“While I’m disappointed with how the results turned out, I’m not disappointed with myself,” Santos said. “I went out there and did everything I possibly could. Unfortunately, luck was not on my side at these Games.”

This was only the second time since short track became an official Olympic sport at the 1992 Albertville Games that the Americans failed to make the podium.

It first happened at Nagano, but that setback was merely a blip. Ohno arrived on the scene four years later in Salt Lake City, giving the sport a huge boost with his dynamic performances.

He won eight medals over three Winter Games, including two golds, and helped short track become one of the biggest attractions for the American viewing audience.

Ohno retired after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and the U.S. team hasn’t found anyone to fill that huge void.

The only American medal in 2014 was a silver in the men’s relay. John-Henry Krueger captured the lone U.S. medal in 2018, a silver in the men’s 1,000, but he suited up for Hungary at these Olympics (and earned a bronze in the mixed relay).

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Choi Minjeong of South Korea successfully defended her Olympic title in the 1,500-meter short track speedskating race while Arianna Fontana of Italy took silver by two-thousandths of a second over Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands. Fontana is the most-decorated short track skater in history with 11 Olympic medals, including three in Beijing.

The Canadian team of Charles Hamelin, Steven Dubois, Jordan Pierre-Gilles and Pascal Dion won the 5,000-meter relay, the country’s eighth gold medal in the 45-lap race.

MEN’S AERIALS: Defending champion Oleksandr Abramenko won Ukraine’s first medal of the Beijing Olympics and celebrated by getting a hug from Russian skier Ilia Burov at a time of rising tensions between the countries.

Qi Guangpu of China won the men’s aerials event, and Abramenko took silver. Burov earned bronze for the second straight Olympics.

Qi and Abramenko held up flags from their countries on the podium, and Burov pointed to a logo on his left arm for the Russian Olympic Committee, or ROC.

Russians have been competing under that acronym after Russia’s name and flag were banned at the Olympics as fallout from the country’s doping scandal.

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MEN’S SLALOM: Clement Noel of France won the men’s slalom on the strength of a fast second run. He moved up from sixth after the first leg to beat Johannes Strolz of Austria, who led after the first run, by 0.61 seconds. World champion Sebastian Foss-Solevaag of Norway took the bronze.

CROSS-COUNTRY: Norwegian skier Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo completed a second straight Olympic cross-country sprint double and Victoria Carl of Germany barely edged Swedish rival Jonna Sundling at the line in the women’s race.

IOC PRESIDENT Thomas Bach offered U.S. figure skaters Olympic torches as holdover gifts while they await a resolution of the Russian doping case that is preventing them from receiving their silver medals, The Associated Press has learned.

Two people familiar with the events told AP that Bach, in a private meeting with the skaters in Beijing, reiterated the IOC stance that no medals ceremonies would be held for events involving Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva. The people did not want their names used because the meeting was confidential.

Men’s champion Nathan Chen and the U.S. finished runner-up to Russia in the team event last week, but the outcome was quickly thrown into chaos when reports surfaced that Valieva had used a banned medication.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Valieva was still eligible to compete in this week’s women’s event while her case wound through the anti-doping system. That case will ultimately determine the status of the medals. Valieva led the women’s contest after the short program.

The nine-person U.S. team stands to at least get silver but could end up with the gold if Valieva is disqualified. The skaters had already received boxes for storing their medals when they learned the ceremony was off.

The people familiar with the meeting said torches used during the traditional Olympic flame relay had already been given to team staff to be presented later to the athletes.

After the CAS decision, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic CEO Sarah Hirshland said the federation was “disappointed by the message this decision sends” and suggested athletes were denied the confidence of knowing they competed on a level playing field.


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