Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 23 News List

S Korea cleaning up in short track

AP , TURIN, ITALY

Canada's Anouk LeBlanc-Boucher, left, and Italy's Arianna Fontana, right, leap over Korea's Jeon Da-hye as she falls during the women's 3000m relay final in short track speed skating in Turin, Italy, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

South Korea is on quite a roll at the short track.

The Asian powerhouse collected another short track gold medal by winning the women's 3,000m relay on Wednesday night.

The team of Byun Chun-sa, Choi Eun-kyung, Jeon Da-hye and Jin Sun-yu won their country's fourth short track gold medal of the Turin Games, equaling the best performance ever in the rough-and-tumble sport -- with three more events still to go.

The South Koreans also won four short track golds at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

They'll get a chance to break that mark tomorrow night, when the competition finishes with two men's finals and one on the women's side.

Canada took silver in the relay, while Italy picked up the bronze when China -- which crossed the line third -- was disqualified for interfering with another skater in a turn after the last exchange.

The Azzurri-clad Italian team leapt for joy when the final standings were posted. The crowd serenaded the four skaters with chants of "Italia! Italia!"

"We have been waiting for this medal a long time," said Marta Capurso, a member of the third-place team. "I have dreamed about it so many times, and now the dream has some true."

It was the first medal ever for the Italian women in short track; the men have a gold and two silvers.

China led much of the race, but Wang Meng -- the only non-Korean short track gold medalist of these games -- cost her team a medal when she got a little too aggressive in a turn and bumped Canada's Kalyna Roberge off line.

Canada -- which also used Alanna Kraus, Anouk LeBlanc-Boucher and Tania Vicent -- came back to finish second anyway.

"We did so many moves and tried to get clear," LeBlanc-Boucher said. "I don't know about the Chinese. The Canadian team did it clean."

The Italians trailed much of the race but pulled a version of the "Bradbury" -- the strategy used by Steven Bradbury to win an improbable gold medal in 2002. The Australian fell far behind, but wound up winning when everyone else crashed in front of him.

This time, the Italians took advantage of a Chinese mistake to capture an unlikely bronze.

"The Chinese made an illegal move," Katia Zini said. "We managed the race quite well."

With China disqualified, the US took fourth place by winning the consolation final.

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