The frenzied Winter Olympic short track competition comes to a close on Wednesday with two disciplines. Medals are on the line in the women’s 1500m event, the final individual contest, and the men’s 5000m relay.
American Kristen Santos has one more chance to reach the podium for the first time, while Italian Arianna Fontana and Dutch skater Suzanne Schulting each compete for their second individual gold medals of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, South Korea, the ROC, Canada, Italy and China are the five finalists in the men’s 5000m relay.
Santos had a medal in sight on the closing lap of the women’s 1000m final. She and Fontana were battling for third place when contact led to a crash. The two shot off into the side padding and Belgium’s Hanne Desmet secured the bronze, which was the first short track medal for her country.
Santos posted on Instagram that the collision was heartbreaking, but she remains confident in the final event.
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No American has received a medal for the women’s 1500m at the Olympics. Santos finished third at a World Cup event last season, though, proving herself capable.
Corrine Stoddard is the other American racing in the 1500m. She finished third in the B Final of the 1000m event.
Schulting won the 1000m gold medal after finishing second behind Fontana in the 500m sprint. She has two gold medals at the 2022 Winter Olympics after the Netherlands won the women’s 3000m relay on Sunday.
The 24-year-old needs one more podium finish to become the first women’s short track skater to earn four medals at one Winter Olympics. Viktor Ahn is the only athlete to have accomplished the feat in 2006 for South Korea.
Fontana is the all-time leader in short track medals with 10. The Italian has earned two at the 2022 Winter Olympics so far, but she has had more success at shorter distances.
Six quarterfinals of six athletes will begin competition, 21 skaters advance to the semifinals and then seven will compete for medals.
Stoddard and Fontana will race in Quarterfinal 2. Santos will compete with Schulting’s medal-winning Dutch teammate Xandra Velzeboer in Quarterfinal 3, while Schulting and Desmet are racing in the sixth grouping.
Men’s 5000m relay
Five squads instead of four reached the men’s 5000m relay. The Chinese team suffered a crash in the first of two semifinals, but the official deemed it the result of interference. China moved on along with Italy and Canada.
Kwak Yoon-Gy took the lead for South Korea over the Netherlands on the final lap of the second semifinal race. He held on for the win, and the ROC swiped second place on an aggressive move just ahead of the finish line.
Hungary, the defending gold medalist, failed to reach the A Final. It will face the Netherlands and Japan in the B Final.