Short track speed skating world champ Simon Cho announced at a press conference in Salt Lake City Friday that rumors and allegations he was asked to tamper with a rival’s skates last year by suspended coach Jae Su Chun are true.
Cho alleges that Chun asked him to “mess with” a Canadian team member’s skates three times; twice in English, which Cho refused, and then in Korean, which was when the skater felt obligated to say yes because of his cultural connection with his Chun. Both were born in South Korea.
“In Asian culture when an elder asks you to do something very difficult, to deny the request, no matter how ridiculous it might sound at the time… I had a lot of pressure from that,” Cho admitted.
Cho apologized to Oliver Jean and the Canadian team for his actions at the 2011 World Team Championships in Poland, as well as to the speed skating community for his “poor judgment and bad sportsmanship.”
“Although the skate belonged to Olivier Jean, I had no intention to single him out,” Cho confessed in a statement. “It was the biggest mistake of my life and one that I regret with all my heart.”
Cho missed grabbing one of the five men’s spots on the U.S. world cup team Sunday, and afterward said he expects to be suspended for his actions. On Friday he added that he would never again skate for Chun, who has also been accused of “unchecked” physical and verbal abuse by 19 current and former skaters.
“I hope that I can make up for my mistake,” Cho finished. “And continue to skate in the future.”
The 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the final competition to determine the Pyeongchang Olympic team, will be in San Jose, California, at the SAP Center, concluding Jan. 7.
It appears to be the earliest the U.S. Figure Skating Championships will end in an Olympic year in at least 50 years.
The competition will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed live on Icenetwork.com.
San Jose previously hosted the U.S. Championships in 1996 and 2012, but it has never hosted in an Olympic year.
Sochi Olympian Polina Edmunds is from San Jose and figures to receive a boost of crowd support. Edmunds, 18, begins classes at nearby Santa Clara University next month.
The January 2017 U.S. Championships will be in Kansas City. The international figure skating season starts next month, with Skate America kicking off the Grand Prix season in October.
Recent Nationals host cities in Olympic years were Boston in 2014 and Spokane, Washington, in 2010.
MORE: Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold headline Skate America
Olympic coaches don’t receive gold medals. Fiji Olympic men’s rugby coach Ben Ryan may have gotten something better anyway.
Ryan’s reward for guiding Fiji to its first Olympic medal in any sport — gold in rugby sevens’ Olympic debut — included three acres of land in Fiji and a new name, Ratu Peni Raiyani Latianara, according to Fijian reports.
Ryan, a London native, is stepping down as coach of the Fijian team. The 44-year-old coached the team for three years after leading the England national sevens team for six years.
MORE: Fiji wins nation’s first Olympic medal