It was a bittersweet night for South Korea on Wednesday in short-track speed skating at the Delta Center.
Korean skaters won gold and silver in the women's 1,500-meter final, beating the fabled Yang Yangs of China in the process, but only after men's teammate Min Ryoung had been injured sliding headfirst into the retaining wall after a collision with American Rusty Smith in a preliminary race.
Ko Gi Hyun won the gold in the women's race, new to the Olympics, and Choi Eun Kyung, who earlier in the evening had set a world record of 2 minutes 21.069 seconds in the event, won the silver. Bulgarian Evgenia Radanova finished third.
Neither of the favored Yangs finished. Yang S. Yang, a triple silver medalist four years ago at Nagano, was disqualified for impeding, and Yang A. Yang, a five-time world champion, fell, escaping injury.
Min was not so fortunate. After crashing hard into the padded wall, he lay still on the ice for several minutes while being attended by emergency personnel, then was wheeled off on a stretcher.
He was taken to LDS Hospital in downtown Salt Lake for treatment of possible back and hip injuries, according to Dr. Scott Hansen, the venue medical officer. A hospital spokesman said Min was undergoing tests, was in stable condition and is not expected to be held overnight.
The accident occurred during the second heat of the men's 5,000 relay semifinals when Min tried to pass Smith for the lead on the inside. Smith, of Sunset Beach, held his position, the skaters bumped and Min's skates went out from under him. Smith managed to avoid getting caught up by the sliding Min, but Italian Nicola Rodigari also went into the boards. He untangled himself from Min, got up and skated away.
The South Koreans were disqualified and the race was reskated -- with only three teams. The U.S. team of Smith, Ron Biondo, Dan Weinstein and Apolo Anton Ohno easily defeated Italy and Australia, and gained a berth in the final Feb. 23.
"He made a really bad pass," Smith said of Min's maneuver. "You never want to see anybody get hurt, but he has a reputation for bad-timed passes. He was going for the corner and his hip was on my shoulder and I'm a little bigger than he is and that's how it worked out.
"When you make a pass, you usually want to make it by [the skater being passed] on the straightaway. Unfortunately, he was not even close ... and at that point my shoulder went into his hip and turned him sideways. Unfortunately, he went down and took the Italian skater also."
In qualifying heats for the men's 1,000, Smith and Ohno advanced, Ohno tucking himself behind South Korean Kim Dong Sung and finishing second, Smith beating Canadian Mathieu Turcotte in his heat by about three-quarters of a lap. The first two finishers in each heat qualified for Saturday's quarterfinals.
American women had no such luck. Erin Porter was disqualified in her qualifying heat of the women's 1,500. Amy Peterson, the American flag bearer in the opening ceremony, made it through her qualifying heat, then finished last in her semifinal heat, skating against Choi and Yang A. Yang, among others.
"I've struggled with the longer race all season." Peterson said. "I knew this would be my toughest race."