‘Three Aces’ prove their class as Anbang Short Track World Cup cruises to victory

For the first time in six years, South Korean athletes showed off their world-class skills at the Short Track World Cup in South Korea.

Park Ji-won (27-Seoul City Hall), the No. 1 overall men’s World Cup ranking in the 2022-2023 season, crossed the line first in Group 3 of the men’s 1500 meters first race quarterfinals with a time of 2:20.584 on Friday at the Mokdong Indoor Ice Center in Yangcheon-gu, Seoul, to advance to the semifinals of the 2023-2024 International Ice Skating Union (ISU) Short Track World Cup IV.

Park Ji-won won the world title and the No. 1 ranking last season. She finished with five silver medals at the World Cup, including a win in the 1000 meters in Montreal, but will be looking to bounce back at home.

Park Ji-won also qualified for the semifinals in the men’s 1500m quarterfinals with a time of 2:16.990.

Park’s compatriot Hwang Dae-heon (24-Gangwon Provincial Office) also raised expectations by breezing through the men’s 500m and 1000m heats. Park finished first in heat six of the men’s 500 meters with a time of 40.997 seconds and second in heat two with a time of 40.950 seconds to advance to the quarterfinals. In the 1000 meters, Hwang finished first in heat 3 of the first round and first in heat 5 of the second round.

Kim Gun-woo (25-Sportoto) and Jang Jang-woo (21-Korea University), who have been leading the World Cup overall rankings this season, kept their heads down. They finished first and second in Group 5 of the men’s 1500m quarterfinals to punch their ticket to the semifinals, but Kim, who ran in Group 2, was penalized in the second race and Jang, who started in Group 3, finished sixth.

Veteran Seo Ira (31-Hwaseong City Hall) topped Heat 6 of the men’s 500m second round to advance to the quarterfinals, while Lee Jung-min (21-Korea Gymnastics University) finished second in Heat 4. The pair also qualified for the quarterfinals of the men’s 1000m with a second-place finish in Heat 4 and an advantage.

On the women’s side, world number one Kim Gil-ri (19-Seongnam City Hall) has filled the void left by Choi Min-jung (Seongnam City Hall), who has decided to take the season off. Kim cruised in the women’s 1500 meters, where she is ranked No. 1. She finished first in heat 3 in the first race and first in heat 1 in the second race to reach the semifinals.

Seo Hwi-min (21-Korea University) advanced to the semifinals in both the first and second races of the 1500 meters, while Park Ji-yoon (24-Goongju City Hall) just missed the quarterfinals in the first race. Shim Seok-hee (26-Seoul City Hall) also punched her ticket to the semifinals by finishing first in heat six of the women’s 1500 meters in the second race.

In the women’s 1000m preliminaries, Shim topped Group 5, while Lee So-yeon (SportsToken) and Park Ji-won (Jeonbuk-do) also qualified for the quarterfinals. In the 500 meters, Lee So-yeon, Park Ji-won and Park Ji-yoon qualified side by side.

In the relay, both men and women cruised. The women’s team of Kim Gil-ri, Park Ji-won, Park Ji-yoon, and Shim Seok-hee finished first in the second heat of the 3000m relay quarterfinals with a time of 4:19.158, while the men’s team of Jang Sung-woo, Lee Jung-min, Park Ji-won, and Seo Ira qualified first in the fourth heat of the 5000m relay quarterfinals.

The team of Hwang Dae-heon, Kim Gun-woo, Lee So-yeon, and Park Ji-won finished second in Group 3 of the mixed 2000-meter relay quarterfinals to advance to the next round.

The athletes will begin their medal hunt in earnest on Feb. 16-17.

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