The Olympic rookie claims the first U.S. individual short track medal since 2010
Team USA short track speed skating earned its first medal at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as John-Henry Krueger (Pittsburgh, Pa.) won silver in the men’s 1000m at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Saturday.
Krueger finished the A Final with a time of 1:24.864. He held a top-two spot nearly the entire final as Canada’s Samuel Girard edged him for gold by 0.214 seconds.
“Besides getting the Olympic medal, I think the second-greatest thing is knowing that all the decisions I made leading up to these Games were right,” Krueger said. “There was a lot of moving, lots of hard decisions to make. But I’m on the podium.”
Krueger’s silver medal is Team USA’s first individual speed skating medal in eight years. It’s also the first silver in an individual men’s event since Apolo Anton Ohno placed second in the 1500m at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.
Krueger also becomes just the second U.S. male to ever medal in the men’s 1000m at the Olympic Games, joining Ohno who won three 1000m medals over his career (silver, 2 bronze). It ties him with Ohno and Katherine Reutter-Adamek for the best 1000m finish by any U.S. skater at a Winter Games.
Krueger won his 1000m semifinal in 1:24.187 on Saturday. He led the race from the third lap on and was able to hold off tight pressure from his opponents around the last turn.
In his quarterfinal race, Krueger was advanced after officials ruled that the Netherlands’ Sjinkie Knegt impeded him on the eighth lap.
“The most important part in short track is just keeping your composure and calm,” Krueger said. “The quarterfinal definitely wasn’t my best race. After the quarterfinal, I decided with my coach and with myself mentally that I needed to stay up front and be confident in what I’ve been training for and it ended up paying off.”
With Krueger’s silver medal, Team USA now has 87 Olympic medals in speed skating at the Olympic Games, with 20 of those medals coming from short track speed skating.
On the women’s side, Jessica Kooreman (Melvindale, Mich.), Maame Biney (Reston, Va.) and Lana Gehring (Glenview, Ill.) represented Team USA in the 1500m, but none of them advanced out of their first-round heats on Saturday.
Kooreman failed to advance to the semifinals due to a penalty. She collided skates with Germany’s Anna Seidel near the end of the 11th lap and fell to the back for the last few laps before being penalized after the race.
“I knew that there was going to be a lot of jockeying for position and I felt pretty comfortable and confident,” Kooreman said. “It’s just trying to hold your position. That’s what you have to do in this sport. You win some, you lose some.”
Kooreman, who made her Olympic debut in Sochi at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, will also be skating in the women’s 1000m.
“I feel like I’m skating well and confident with my ability,” Kooreman said. “That’s short track. You can’t control everything. You can only control you and after that it’s up to the refs.”
Biney, 18, wrapped up her debut Olympics with a sixth-place finish in her 1500m heat (2:31.819).
She took her turn up at the front of the race in the fifth and sixth laps, but ultimately couldn’t hold on. Her fastest lap time was 9.33 seconds.
“Overall (the Olympics have been) amazing,” Biney said. “No matter what my result was, I think I would do it again just to have the experience. I’m ready for the next four years.”
Biney had advanced to the quarterfinals in the women’s 500m earlier this week, but did not advance to the semifinals.
“I’m going to do a lot more work,” Biney said. “I’m not going to stick with what I’ve been doing. I’m going to work harder so next time I can be on the podium hopefully.”
Gehring finished her 1500m heat in fifth place with a time of 2:27.336.
After jumping out to the front early, Gehring had a difficult time keeping pace with the leaders in her race. Her fastest full lap time was 9.52 seconds.
“Tough race. Mentally I was prepared for it but the body was just not giving me what I wanted,” Gehring said.
Gehring, who is competing in her second Olympics (also 2010), missed the 500m quarterfinals by just 0.1 seconds last Saturday.
“Every Games is a different experience and this one feels more like a family, like a team. I’m enjoying it a little bit more. I was hoping to see a little better results but it just didn’t happen today.”
For results, post-race interviews and other media information, visit the US Speedskating Media Page.
Short track continues on Tuesday, February 20 with the women’s 1000m, men’s 500m and women’s 3000m relay. Live coverage of the races will be streamed on nbcolympics.com beginning at 7 p.m. KT (5 a.m. ET).
Quotes from John-Henry Krueger
Quotes from Jessica Kooreman
Quotes from Maame Biney
Quotes from Lana Gehring