South Korean stars breezed through the opening phases of the International Skating Union World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Seoul on Friday.
There were few upsets on Day 1 of the three-day competition at Mokdong Ice Rink in the capital city. Kim Gil-li, who leads all female skaters this season with 615 World Cup points, won Heat 3 in the quarterfinals of the first 1,500-meter race and then finished first in Heat 1 in the second 1,500m race.
The top three skaters from each of the six heats, plus the fastest fourth-place skater, qualified for the semifinals set for the weekend.
On the men's side, Kim Gun-woo, the overall World Cup points leader with 534 points, reached the semifinals in the first of two 1,500m races by winning Heat 5 of the quarters. Kim, though, was penalized in Heat 2 of the quarterfinals in the second 1,500m competition.
Park Ji-won, the men's World Cup champion from the 2022-23 season, cruised through the quarterfinals in both 1,500m races by winning Heat 3 and Heat 1, respectively.
Olympic champion Hwang Dae-heon eased his way through two rounds of preliminaries in the men's 500m and 1,000m.
The women's 3,000m relay team finished first in Heat 2 of the quarterfinals, and the men's 5,000m relay team won Heat 4 in their quarterfinals.
The mixed 2,000m relay team, featuring two female and two male skaters, finished behind the United States in Heat 3 of the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals.
In the relays, the top two teams from each of four heats in the quarterfinals advanced to the semifinals. Those eight nations will be paired into two heats, and the top two teams from each will qualify for Final A, while the rest will be relegated to Final B.
This is the first World Cup Short Track taking place in Seoul in six years.
The competition will continue Saturday with the finals in the men's and women's 1,000m and 1,500m, plus the mixed 2,000m relay. On Sunday, there will be a second 1,500m final for men and women, along with finals for the men's and women's 500m, the women's 3,000m relay and the men's 5,000m relay. (Yonhap)