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Speedskating

Davis drops out; S. Korea sets pace

Associated Press / February 16, 2010

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RICHMOND, British Columbia - Mo Tae Bum showed that South Korea is pretty good at the big oval, too.

Representing a country that is best known for its success in short-track, Mo captured a surprising gold medal at the long track in men’s 500-meter speedskating last night, shaking off a delay of more than an hour caused by mechanical problems with the ice-resurfacing machines.

Mo put up the second-best time of the opening race, then blazed around the track in 34.90 seconds to snatch the gold with a total time of 1 minute 9.82 seconds. Japan took the next two spots, Keiichiro Nagashima claiming silver (1:09.98) and Joji Kato the bronze (1:10.01).

South Korea’s Lee Kang Seok came in ranked first in the world, just ahead of countryman Lee Kyou Hyhyuk. But Lee Kang Seok was edged out for a medal, finishing fourth in 1:10.041 while Lee Kyou Hyuk was far back in 15th.

Mika Poutala had the lead after the first round, but a couple of stumbles in the second heat cost him a shot at becoming the first Finnish male to capture speedskating gold since 1928. He had just the 11th-best time of the second race, a total time of 1:10.044 leaving him in fifth.

American star Shani Davis decided to skip the second race so he can concentrate on his best events. Davis finished 18th in the first race (35.45), leaving him far out of medal contention. He was using the sprint mainly to get in some speed work for tomorrow’s 1,000, an event in which he holds the world record and is the defending Olympic champion.

Mika Poutala had the lead after the first round, but a couple of stumbles in the second heat cost him a shot at becoming the first Finnish male to capture speedskating gold since 1928.

Canadian favorite Jeremy Wotherspoon was fifth after the first race, but finished ninth overall. Tucker Fredricks of Janesville, Wis., secured 12th overall by coming in ninth in the second race. The other Americans to place were Nick Pearson (Vernon, Wis.) at 26th and Mitchell Whitmore (Waukesha, Wis.) at 37th.

The second race was delayed because of problems with various ice-resurfacing machines.

Two machines are used to clean the ice, but the Richmond Olympic Oval was down to just one because of problems with the other. Then the second one acted up after the first 10 pairs completed their opening 500 race.

A third backup machine without Olympic logos was sent out, but it also failed to perform a smooth resurfacing.

After an hour-long delay, one of the Olympic logo machines reappeared and resurfaced the ice.