February 15th, 2010
11:33 AM ET

Thrilling race on the ice books speedskater's place in history

If you ever consider purchasing tickets to an Olympic Winter Games sport, might I suggest short-track speedskating? In a word, WOW!

South Korean Jung-Su Lee crosses the finish-line ahead of Canada's Charles Hamelin and American speedskating legend Apolo Anto Ohno.
South Korean Jung-Su Lee crosses the finish-line ahead of Canada's Charles Hamelin and American speedskating legend Apolo Anto Ohno.

Venue: the Pacific Coliseum, event: the 1500 metres men's short-track final. Having never before taken-in this sport in person, I didn't really know what to expect.

I did know from the television pictures that I've seen through the years that short-track seemed to be the real deal. Many times the race isn't over 'till it's over and sometimes even then it's not finished.

This is precisely how it went for Apolo Anton Ohno on this night. Ohno was, without a doubt, the most popular skater in the house. Even the Canadian crowd, who would have loved to see one of their own claim the gold, was behind the 27-year-old in his pursuit of U.S. Olympic history.

When Ohno was introduced, the fans roared and rang cowbells to increase the decibel level in an already noisy arena. Once the race began, off a starter's gun, it was a little difficult to focus from the upper level of the stands. So much was going on as the skaters went 'round and 'round the ice.

Ohno fell back in the pack at one point and then made his move toward the front as the laps wound down. Your eyes would, at one moment, be fixed on the white ice and then you'd look up at the scoreboard to keep up with positioning. Talk about multi-tasking!

As the race neared the finish line, it looked as if South Korea would sweep the podium. Ohno must have been thinking "oh no". Then, in a blink of an eye, one Korean took out another Korean with an ill-advised pass on the final turn. As the teammates crashed into the protective barrier, Ohno and his U.S. teammate J.R. Celski skated to the line to claim the silver and the bronze respectively behind Jung-Su Lee from South Korea who won the gold medal.

While Ohno waited for the results to become official, he raised six fingers into the air, representing the six Olympic medals he's claimed over the course of his career. What played out next will live in my Olympic memories.

Ohno retrieved a United States flag and draped it across his shoulders. With a big smile on his face, the speedskating star seemingly let out a big sigh once the finishing order was set in stone. As he circled the ice, with his country's flag in tow, Apolo Anto Ohno did so as the most decorated male Winter Olympian in U.S. history.

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Filed under:  2010 Winter Games
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Bev W

    I am a huge fan of Apolo Ohno and congratulate him and the US, but I am appalled that it hasn't been mentioned at all on CNN that Canada won it's first gold medal on Canadian soil. If it was reversed, all our papers and news outlets would have announced this accomplishment with huge headlines. I am very disappointed. I watch CNN and read here on a daily basis.

    February 15, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  2. guest

    Bev, Congrats to the Canadians for your first gold on home soil. Great job.
    Apolo is an awesome athlete

    February 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  3. W.Wright

    What do you mean wasn't mentioned on CNN. I heard it announced over and over regarding the Gold Metal won by the young man from Canada. It was wonderful and I think it got the coverage it so richly deserved.

    February 15, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  4. Guest

    Ohno didn't outskate the front tthree Koreans skaters. He was in the fourth. Ohno got the medal becasue the two Koreans skaters collided , he was in the fourth and thus grapped the medal. SO, technically, he didn't skate to the top three. He was the fourth skater.

    February 16, 2010 at 1:13 am | Reply
  5. Rich

    Seeing as Ohno was the second skater to cross the finish line, he did in fact, outskate all but one. Positions at the 1400 meter mark are irrelevant in a 1500 meter race.

    February 16, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  6. Weasel

    Just like in car races.. doesn't matter if you lead the first 499 laps...it's the last inch that matters.

    February 16, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  7. JosephInJapan

    @guest Not making an error is just as, if not more important, than executing well...and a part of the race. Ohno deserves exactly what he got- and his history making is 100% legit.

    February 17, 2010 at 1:02 am | Reply
  8. MeJane

    Are the Oylmpic Games turely fair? Is it the image they're trying tho portrit as the world leader in sports organization, the friendly peaceful organization that rules with all fairness and whatever all the rubbish they state about the organization and the games...... Look what happened today in the women's short track 3,000 ......They robbed a gold medal from the Koreans right in front of millions of viewer! They've played the video over and over and by no means of any fault, the Koreans won their medal fair and square. Who are the judges? They have eyes! Just because they want to give a medal the the Americans and siver to the Canadians they do what was clearly not fair and by all means outrageous ON-AIR robbery of a gold medal from the true winners of the event!!!
    Are these judges gods? Aren't they abusing their power of their authority unfairly? Fair games? You be the judge!!!!!!

    February 25, 2010 at 4:05 am | Reply
  9. Clubwww1

    Just goes to show that winning is not everything!

    July 13, 2010 at 1:16 am | Reply

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