The 500m: Apolo Ohno & Ultimate Mayhem on the Short Track

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In case you have a life and missed it… SPOILER ALERT, because I firmly believe in OnDemand, DVR and… go watch the men’s 5oo meter short track finals and then come back. Maybe take a Valium. Don’t be caught with liquids near anything you don’t want doused. This is good advice.

The phrase most frequently associated with the sport appears to be, “That’s short track,” accompanied with an exasperated shrug. Crazy shit goes down and that’s just the way it is. I urge you to recall the Celski disqualification during the 1000m and the surprise bronze for the women’s relay borne of a South Korean blade click.

Last night we confronted what Chris Collinsworth described as “the craziest event within this crazy sport,” on what is touted as the best night of short track at the Olympics– a Friday night with the “part race, part demolition derby,” (Oh Bob Costas) men’s 500 meter, the women’s 1000 meter and the final epic event, the women’s 3000 men’s 5,000 meter relay.

In an advertisement aired by NBC on Saturday afternoon for the Kentucky Derby, Ohno likened his sport to the esteemed horse race… which was confusing and involved lots of snorting beasts battling it out. Previously he had compared the 500 to a bunch of guys ripping around a tiny track on motorcycles at top speed and then doing a multitude of hairpin u-turns.

NBC really likes to encourage metaphoric language. I don’t know if you’ve noticed.

The quarterfinal brought the world another amazing Apolo Ohno moment that was just about too awesome and too good to be true. There was a spill on the track in which two competitors wiped out right in Ohno’s path (Tyson Heung, Germany & Thibault Fauconnet, France). So what did he do? Oh yeah, he just jumped over the carnage. Just. jumped. over. them. No big deal. Like that cliff running bit from two weeks ago.

Talk about crazy. Scott Hamilton called Evgeny Plushenko ‘cat-like’ during men’s figure skating. Molly summed Ohno’s move up thusly, “He’s a lion.”

Digression: The world has been wondering all week why Ohno yawns before a race. Is he bored? Is he tired? What is going on? So NBC asked him and aside from explaining that it relaxes him before a race he grinned and said, “Turn on the Discovery Channel. Lions do it– so, I wanna be a lion.”

Love those spotlight on Apolo NBC moments and the magical things he says.

Moving on.

In the semifinal Ohno qualified first ahead of François-Louis Tremblay of Canada, beating out two South Koreans, Kwak Yoon-Gy and Lee Ho-Suk, placing into the A Final. It was a delight. Things were looking good.

And now I bring you final of mayhem/ doom. The line up: 1) Charles Hamelin (Canada), 2) Sung Si-Bak (South Korea), 3) Apolo Ohno (US), 4) François-Louis Tremblay (Canada).

Ohno fell back into fourth position early on which did not bode well since there barely is an “early on” in a race as brief as the 500 meter sprint. But there’s always a solid chance when you are watching Ohno race that he will somehow, amazingly pull it together at the clutch. As the seconds clocked by things took a desperate turn. There was a lot of shouting. Neighbors where disturbed.

And then just before the finish it looked like Ohno was going to make a move into third for the bronze. As happens with shocking frequency in short track there was minor contact, a hand to Tremblay’s hip by Apolo (again let’s just re-read that Celski incident recap). Shortly after this seemingly quotidian contact Tremblay slips and spins out. Meanwhile, up ahead it looks like Hamelin has a hand on Sung’s hip momentarily, Sung trips of his own accord, grabs at Hamelin’s skate and spins out. Once again Ohno is navigating through the carnage, Hamelin is sliding all over the place and ends of going backwards for the last bit, Ohno manages to stay fully on his feet and crosses the line for silver…

You. would. think.

I can’t find  embeddable video at the moment, so here’s the stingy exclusive NBC link. I will keep looking.

The moment Tremblay went down the threat of disqualification was thick in the air and maybe the saddest thing ever is watching footage of the end of the race and how elated Ohno is that he hung on and got through… and then having to realize that he has been disqualified. And again we must do a tally for the day: Rough City, Population- Apolo Anton Ohno.

If only Tremblay had not felt the need to wipe out. If if was a skiff…

After the race Collinsworth caught up with Ohno: “I think that was definitely three of the fastest guys off the line that I’ve ever skated against… There wasn’t any space to move up, just kind of waiting, waiting, waiting… I don’t know why they called me– I was in fourth the whole time… but no regrets.”

Ohno countered the contact DQ saying that he was “just protecting myself” from running into Tremblay by having his hand up, a typical move in short track. His frustration with the call was not a surprise, but he was pretty chill in staking his position: “…you know, in short track everything is subjective, so I just have to skate faster [in the relay].”

Done and Done.



Filed under [Obscure] Winter Sports

2 responses to “The 500m: Apolo Ohno & Ultimate Mayhem on the Short Track

  1. Shaun V.

    Enjoyed reading the recap of the race. I’m so impressed by Apolo Ohno, this young man is so mature, he always seems to knows the right things to say. He’s calm, cool and collected (Zen like), actually he’s the reason I watched the Olympics. He’s is very exciting to watch on the ice.

  2. Pingback: Favorite Ridiculous Olympic Moments: Random Things « Words to Bumble

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