Liu, Boutin clinch season titles in 1000m in ISU short-track speedskating World Cup

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-20 14:13:12|Editor: Yang Yi
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SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Hungary's Liu Shaolin Sandor and Canada's Kim Boutin clinched season titles in the 1000m, while the men's and women's relays supplied plenty of thrills and spills as usual at the ISU short-track speedskating World Cup here over the weekend.

The Netherlands were disappointed that an aggressive approach could not yield a second relay gold on Sunday.

South Korea crossed the 5000m line first without the services of wunderkind Hwang Dae Heon, while the USA followed up their world-record feat last week in Shanghai with a bronze.

The ladies from the Netherlands won their relay minutes prior to the men's final and the men came out looking like they wanted a repeat. They grabbed the lead with 12 laps to go but it seemingly woke the South Koreans up.

"We were just skating our own race," said Dutch star Sjinkie Knegt. "Our goal was to keep the speed high. The (South) Koreans tried to slow down a little but we kept the speed high.

World Cup leaders Canada did not make it past the heats but did enough at the first three stops to remain at the top. Japan won the B final.

The Netherlands took advantage of a collision between the race leaders to win their first ladies 3000m relay gold this ISU World Cup Short Track season.

The South Korean and Chinese skaters made contact with four laps to go, which allowed the Dutch and Russians to swoop past.

South Korea ended up with the bronze and finished the world cup series as the overall winner in the relay. China received a penalty.

"A lot of things happened," Yara van Kerkhof said. "We wanted to start in front but we were second and we tried to keep our spot. We suddenly became third and it was a little bit more stressful."

Apart from the collision, South Korea also botched a handover two laps prior while leading, which set up the fateful moment.

Van Kerkhof was proud of the victory, also their first relay medal of any colour over the four stops of the World Cup season.

"We were excited to race here in this stadium and this crowd. Before the race started we said, let's make the crowd quiet by winning, and we won," she said.

She prefers not to look at it as a fluke.

"It gives a lot of confidence and what can happen here can also happen at the Olympics. I get a good feeling for the Olympics."

The race for the men's 1000m overall crown was wide open entering the final and Liu Shaolin Sandor's gold settled it.

Hwang Dae Heon's silver meant he finished second in the ISU World Cup Short Track classification while Canada's Samuel Girard took bronze.

Chinese star Wu Dajing's hopes were dashed after skating to last.

The race itself mirrored the World Cup race, with the lead shuffling among all four skaters in the last four laps. Eventually, Liu made the move at the right time to cross the line first.

"It was a really good race, there was so much action. It's been really exciting from the quarterfinals," he said after winning his second individual gold this season.

"I hope I can get more experience like this (winning gold)," he added.

Girard agreed: "I knew it would be a fast race, everyone wants to be in front, nobody wants to be at the back because there's a lot of fighting. I think I did pretty well, I attacked, I wasn' t holding it back."

The previous event at Shanghai only gave the Canadian, who was second at the world championships, a relay bronze, so he was pleased with his effort in Seoul.

"I had a good start [to the world cup]. In Shanghai, it was a bit tougher I would say, but I came back stronger here. I will train hard for the Olympics and I would be ready for that."

Dutchman Sjinkie Knegt, the World Cup leader coming into Seoul, was penalized in the semifinals.

Kim Boutin became the second Canadian to finish the ISU World Cup Short Track series as an overall winner after a contentious last corner of the ladies 1000m final saw rival Shim Suk Hee of South Korea crash out.

There was contact involving Boutin, Shim and Great Britain's Elise Christie. Boutin earned the silver while Christie earned a penalty that left her in tears.

Ahead of the drama, Choi Min Jeong of South Korea won her sixth individual gold this season. Yara van Kerkhof was third.

Boutin explained: "I blocked Christie inside and sometimes contact happens. Everyone in there is really strong. We were jostling."

Teammate Marianne St-Gelais took the 500m crown on Saturday.

Boutin came to Seoul as the World Cup leader and a silver here proved enough for her.

Canada's Jamie Macdonald won the B final.

The confirmed list of quota places for the PyeongChang Olympics will be announced soon by the ISU.