Short track shutout for the United States at the Beijing Olympics | WJHL
BEIJING (AP) — Oh no, it was a short track shutout for the Americans at the Beijing Olympics.
A program that has struggled to regain the buzz and success it had when Apolo Anton Ohno was the star attraction has failed to win a medal for the first time since 1998.
The shutout was complete when Kristen Santos, the team’s top medal hopeful, suffered even more bad luck on Wednesday and found herself only in the “B” final of the women’s 1,500 metres, the final short track event.
“Obviously there are things out of my control that have taken me away from the podium and what I know I’m capable of,” Santos said. “It’s definitely disappointing. It’s going to take me some time to fully reconcile with this.
In six days of competition at Capital Indoor Stadium, Santos was the only U.S. skater to even qualify for a medal final.
In the 1,000m, she was in contention for the podium when Italian star Arianna Fontana knocked her out.
Fontana ended up being penalized, but it didn’t do Santos any good. She finished fourth – 14 seconds behind the bronze medalist in what turned out to be the best performance by an American skater in Beijing.
It was more or less the same in Santos’ last event, the 1500m.
She qualified for the semi-finals and was trying to position herself to advance to the “A” final when Hungary’s Petra Jaszapati made an illegal pass on the curve, causing Japan’s Sumire Kikuchi to crash.
Oh, on the way down, Kikuchi pushed Santos, who stumbled and lost momentum as the rest of the pack sped away.
Jaszapati was disqualified, but the referee – who has wide discretion – simply advanced Santos and Kikuchi to the consolation final.
It pretty much ended any hope of coming away with a medal.
“Although I’m disappointed with how the results turned out, I’m not disappointed with myself,” Santos said. “I went out there and did everything I could. Unfortunately, luck was not on my side at these Games.
It’s only the second time since short track became an official Olympic sport at the 1992 Albertville Games that the Americans haven’t made it to the podium.
This happened for the first time in Nagano, but this setback was only a failure. Ohno arrived on the scene four years later in Salt Lake City, giving the sport a huge boost with his dynamic performances.
He won eight medals in three Winter Games, including two gold medals, and helped short track become one of the biggest attractions for the American public.
Ohno retired after the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, and Team USA couldn’t find anyone to fill that huge void.
The only American medal in 2014 was a silver medal in the men’s relay. John-Henry Krueger won America’s only medal in 2018, a silver in the men’s 1000m, but he adapted for Hungary at those Olympics (and won a bronze in the mixed relay).
The American team that competed in Beijing consisted of only two men (the Americans didn’t even qualify for the relay) and a lot of young people.
Five of the seven athletes were 22 or younger, including 20-year-old Corinne Stoddard, who skated most of the competition with a broken nose suffered in her very first race.
Santos was the oldest, at 27, and she doesn’t know if she’ll be back for the 2026 Olympics. She’s getting married in a few months and says she’ll need time to decide whether to continue for another four years .
Either way, she’s confident the Americans won’t suffer another shutout in Milan.
“I think we will definitely be on the podium in four years,” Santos said. “Everyone here in our team has shown that we can do it.”