Viktor Ahn of Russia easily advanced to the 500m men’s short track speedskating quarter-finals at the Sochi Games yesterday, putting him in position to become the first skater to win an Olympic gold medal in all four individual short track events.
South Korea-born Ahn made it safely through his heat, cheered loudly by the mostly Russian crowd at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, Russia. He won his adopted country’s first gold in the sport in the 1,000m and earned a bronze in the 1,500m after becoming a Russian citizen in 2011.
In Heat 7, Taiwan’s Mackenzie Blackburn failed to qualify for the quarter-finals after finishing third with a time of 42.337. The 21-year-old trailed first-place finisher Olivier Jean of Canada and JR Celski of the US, who came second. Celski, who was fourth in the 1,500m, was the lone American to advance in his last individual event.
In the biggest surprise of the day, Charles Hamelin of Canada was leading on the last lap of his heat when he crashed into the pads after apparently catching a blade in the turn. He won gold in the 1,500m on the first day of short track in Sochi.
Hamelin’s crash cleared the way for Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands to win the heat. Knegt won his country’s first short track medal when he took bronze in the 1,000m last weekend.
Among other skaters moving on to Friday’s quarter-finals were Park Se-yeong and Lee Han-bin of South Korea, Wu Dajing, Liang Wenhao and 1,500m silver medalist Han Tianyu of China, and Vladimir Grigorev of Russia, the silver medalist in the 1,000m.
In other Sochi news, Pussy Riot collective members Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said they were detained on suspicion of theft yesterday, less than two months after being released from prison under an amnesty.
Both women said on Twitter that police forcefully threw them into a van, with Tolokonnikova saying they had been accused of theft and Alekhina adding that they were questioned without their lawyers present.
“At the time of our detention, we weren’t engaged in any protests, we were walking around Sochi. WE WERE WALKING,” Tolokonnikova wrote on Twitter.
Lawyer Alexander Popkov told reporters that about 30 to 40 officers had arrested between 12 and 15 people, including Alekhina and Tolokonnikova.
The women were in Sochi with other Pussy Riot members to record a musical film called Putin Will Teach You To Love The Motherland, Tolokonnikova said.