Ohno wins gold in World Cup speedskating

The Mirror

The “Soul Patch” is still alive and skating.

Former Federal Way resident Apolo Ohno’s 15 minutes of fame that started during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City has turned into years of popularity for the short-track speedskater.

Ohno added to his resume last weekend with a pair of gold medals at the World Cup speedskating meet Sunday in South Korea. The meet in Seoul was Ohno’s first visit to South Korea since his controversial Olympic win over a South Korean skater in the 2002 Olympics earned him a barrage of hate mail.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we thought now it was time to come,” he told The Associated Press following the weekend World Cup meet. “It turned out for the best. I’ve had a really good reception.”

Ohno’s win in the 1,000-meter final in Salt Lake City came at the expense of South Korean Kim Dong-sung, who was disqualified for impeding and surrendered the gold medal to his American rival.

Fears for his safety prompted Ohno to sit out a meet in South Korea in 2003, along with the rest of the United States team. Nerves remained frayed last week as he was greeted at Seoul’s Incheon airport by more than 100 security officials.

South Koreans are very passionate about their short-track speedskating and were still upset that Ohno’s gold medal came at Kim’s expense.

“There was nothing hostile about the fans, they were just happy watching the races,” said Ohno, who regained the world No. 1 ranking with golds in the 1,000 and 3,000-meter finals.

Ohno’s victories were the only good news this meet for the U.S. team at the meet, which finished last in the men’s 5000-meter relay final.

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