Pyeongchang 2018: Speed skating is as entertaining as it is infuriating.

Christie
Elise Christie began her Olympic campaign on day one of competition. (Image Credit: SNS via. https://stv.tv/sport/more/1408076-elise-christie-progresses-by-smashing-olympic-world-record/

Today I watched speed skating for the first time, and to be honest with you it was pretty entertaining.

Something about watching half a dozen people skate in a circle really quickly appealed to me. Perhaps it was just being in awe of these people who can not only stand on the ice, but run at up to 50kph on it! Or it could have been all the falls and photo finishes.

This is regarded as Korea’s sport. The host nation have won 42 of their 57 all-time Winter Olympic medals in short track speed skating. 12,000 spectators inside the Gangneung Ice Arena burst into euphoria whenever a home skater took to the ice. This event was the golden ticket of the games for many of the Korean people.

So it didn’t come as a surprise when Lim Hyo-jun won the host nation’s first gold of the games in the men’s 1500m. The 21-year-old led from the halfway point in the final, and soaked up all the cheer and jubilation after he crossed the line.

Elise Christie showed Great Britain exactly why she was nominated for a SPORTY last year. The 27-year-old is on the hunt for a first Olympic medal after a disappointing Sochi games four years ago where she was triple disqualified. The 27-year-old controlled her heat to progress to the quarter finals of the women’s 500m. Her sheer power saw her steer clear of the chasing pack going into the first corner as she posted a time of 42.872 seconds.

But for all it’s excitement, speed skating is also infuriating. VAR may have just been introduced into football, but it is most definitely needed here. Every race ended with a judging panel staring at a screen, watching the same replays time and time again to determine if any competitor was the culprit of any crashes during the race.

It was like a convict waiting for their verdict in a courtroom from the jury: Guilty or not guilty. Sometimes it only took a couple of minutes, other times it took up to 10.

For a sport where a race can last less than a minute, there is a lot of waiting about.

At one point, the commentators even struggled to fill the time, that goes to show that quicker decisions are needed.

I also got to glimpse parts of the first two runs of the men’s single luge event. These men are brave, and perhaps a little bit mad to do this for a living! Did they go down the slide in their local playground as a kid and decide this is what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives?

Replacing metal with ice, and travelling at speeds as fast as 135kmh is something I would only consider if I was uncontrollably intoxicated.

These men fly down the track. Blink and you miss it! You can only sit back and admire the amount of bottle this guys have to do this.

If you haven’t seen Jozef Ninis literally start to fly halfway through his run then you must!

MEDAL WINNERS: DAY ONE

Women’s skiathlon: Gold- Charlotte Kalla (SWEDEN), Silver- Marit Bjorgen (NORWAY), Bronze- Krista Parmakoski (FINLAND)

Men’s 1500m speed skating: Gold- Lim Hyo-jun (KOREA), Silver- Sjinkie Knegt (NETHERLANDS), Bronze-  Semen Elistratov (OAR)

Women’s 3000m speed skating: Gold- Carlijn Achtereekte (NETHERLANDS), Silver- Ireen Wust (NETHERLANDS), Bronze- Antoinette de Jong (NETHERLANDS)

Women’s biathlon: Gold- Laura Dahlmeier (GERMANY), Silver- Marte Olsbu (NORWAY), Bronze- Veronika Vitkova (CZECH REPUBLIC)

Men’s normal hill ski jumping:  Gold- Andreas Wellinger (GERMANY), Johann Andre Forfang (NORWAY), Robert Johansson (NORWAY)

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