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[PyeongChang 2018] S. Korean short trackers aim to start Olympics with men's gold

Feb. 9, 2018 - 10:16 By Yonhap

PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province -- The South Korean short track speed skating team aims to start its Olympic journey on Saturday by adding another gold to its glowing medal table.

The first gold medal in short track will come from the men's 1,500 meters, where three South Koreans, Hwang Dae-heon, Seo Yi-ra and Lim Hyo-jun, will compete. And Hwang is considered the most prominent skater as the 18-year-old currently stands as world No. 1 in the distance.

Lim also won gold in the first 1,500m race during the 2017-2018 World Cup season, and it's highly likely a member of Team Korea could stand on the top of the podium.

Also in short track, there will be heats for the women's 500m and the 3,000m relay.

Although short-distance races have been a weak point for the female team, Choi Min-jeong, world No. 1 in the distance, has a realistic shot at winning South Korea's first gold from the 500m.

South Korean short track speed skater Hwang Dae-heon trains at a practice rink inside Gangneung Yeongdong University in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 6, 2018. (Yonhap)

Elsewhere on Saturday, the joint Korean women's hockey team will play its historic first match against Switzerland. The puck drop at Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, east of PyeongChang, is 9:10 p.m.

There are 23 South Koreans and 12 North Koreans on the expanded unified roster -- the first of its kind in any sports in Olympic history. But the game roster of 22, with 20 skaters and two goaltenders, hasn't changed, and at least three players must be from North Korea, under the terms announced by the International Olympic Committee.

Head coach Sarah Murray has said she plans to use three or four North Koreans in the first game.

South Korea is ranked 22nd in the world, three spots above North Korea. Switzerland is No. 6.

The very first gold medal out of 102 at these Olympic Games will come from cross-country skiing at Alpensia Cross-Country Centre, where the women's 7.5-kilometer + 7.5-kilometer skiathlon will be contested. (Yonhap)