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Short track world records broken, fallen champion remembered in Salt Lake City

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An enduring moment of the World Cup short track speed skating stop near Salt Lake City, Utah, this weekend came well after five world records fell.

Following two days of racing, officials at the Utah Olympic Oval changed out a world records display board with the new marks set in perhaps the fastest meet of all time.

One of the fallen records belonged to South Korean Noh Jin-kyu, the 2011 World overall champion who died of cancer on April 3 at age 23.

In January 2014, Noh broke an elbow one month before what was to be his Olympic debut in Sochi. Under further inspection, a malignant tumor was found in his shoulder showing he had bone cancer, forcing him off the Olympic team and into chemotherapy.

At the Olympic Oval on Sunday, the panel with Noh’s 1500m world-record time, broken by the Netherlands’ Sjinkie Knegt earlier that day, was handed to the South Korean team, reportedly to bring to Noh’s family. A moment of silence was also held for Noh.

Knegt, the 2015 World overall champion best known for this obscene gesture, was one of many record breakers this past weekend. The Utah Olympic Oval has been known since before the 2002 Olympics to be home to the world’s fastest ice, but that designation has been more associated with long-track speed skating than short track.

The new marks set, remarkably all but one by more than one second, came in five of the eight events on the Olympic program:

Men’s 1000m
Old Record: Semyon Elistratov (RUS, 2016) — 1:22.607
New Record: Daeheon Hwang (KOR) — 1:20.875

Men’s 1500m
Old Record: Noh Jin-kyu (KOR, 2011) — 2:09.041
New Record: Sjinkie Knegt (NED) — 2:07.943

Women’s 500m
Old Record: Fan Kexin (CHN, 2014) — 42.504
New Record: Elise Christie (GBR) — 42.335

Women’s 1500m
Old Record: Fan Kexin (CHN, 2008) — 2:16.729
New Record: Choi Min-jeong (KOR) — 2:14.352

Women’s 3000m relay
Old Record: South Korea (2013) — 4:06.215
New Record: South Korea — 4:04.222

Of all the record-breaking skaters, perhaps Choi deserves the most attention. The 18-year-old is the two-time reigning World overall champion. Given South Korea has no active female short track skaters with individual Olympic titles — its only one from 2010 or 2014 is now a long-track skater — Choi may face intense attention during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Viktor Ahn, the South Korean-turned-Russian who won three golds and one bronze in Sochi, didn’t compete on Saturday and Sunday due to a cold, according to Russian media.

Also in Salt Lake City last weekend, two American records fell out of 49 total national records set in two days. The U.S. team is trying to rebuild after earning zero individual medals in Sochi, its poorest showing at the Olympics since 1998.

Katherine Reutter, the two-time 2010 Olympic medalist coming back from a three-year retirement, broke her American 1000m record set when she took silver at the Vancouver Winter Games.

In two World Cups this season, Reutter has two fifths and a sixth-place finish. No U.S. woman has made the podium.

“I feel like I’m right below the threshold,” Reutter said, according to The Associated Press. “I don’t know what it is that’s got to click, but I know when I get there, the game’s going to change. … I know that moment is coming. I just have to take my medicine and wait for it to get there.

“I’d really love a medal. But incremental steps are OK. To actually get sixth, that hurt my feelings. That is what it is.”

Keith Carroll, Jr. broke the American men’s record in the 1000m, previously held by 2014 Olympian Chris Creveling (set in 2012).

Also, John-Henry Krueger won the first individual U.S. World Cup medal in nearly two years, 1500m bronze, breaking the U.S.’ longest drought in the two-decade history of the World Cup.

Krueger, who trains in South Korea, is the only American to earn an individual World Cup medal since the Sochi Olympics. He was plagued by swine flu during the 2014 Olympic Trials, missing the Sochi team after entering as one of the favorites.

The short track World Cup continues in Shanghai in December.

NBC Olympics researcher Alex Azzi contributed to this report from Utah.

MORE: South Korean Olympic short track champ switches to long track

Winter Olympic medalists Apolo Ohno, Tanith White join NBC’s Rio team

Apolo Ohno, Tanith White
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Apolo Ohno, the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian with eight medals, and 2006 Olympic silver medalist Tanith White will serve as NBC sportsdesk reporters at the Rio Games.

Ohno, a short track speed skating Olympian in 2002, 2006 and 2010, will cover his third straight Olympics for NBC. He served as a sportsdesk reporter at London 2012 and as a short track analyst at Sochi 2014.

White, an ice dance Olympian in 2006 and 2010, will cover her second straight Olympics for NBC. She was a sportsdesk reporter at Sochi 2014.

Ohno and White will report at various venues and locations and contribute to features on multiple platforms in Rio, including on “The Olympic Zone” – a 30-minute nightly show on NBC affiliates.

Fellow Winter Olympians Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will also cover the Rio Games for NBC, exploring the culture, sights and sounds and fashion of the host city.

MORE: Mike Tirico joins NBC with Olympics at ‘top of the list’

Apolo Ohno to be inducted into U.S. Speedskating Hall of Fame

Apolo Ohno
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Apolo Ohno, the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian with eight medals, will be inducted into the U.S. Speedskating Hall of Fame on May 13.

“This incredible sport has taught me so much, and to be associated with a special group of legends like this is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Ohno said in a press release.

Ohno earned gold and silver at Salt Lake City 2002, gold and two bronze at Torino 2006 and silver and two bronze at Vancouver 2010, his final competition.

Ohno announced his retirement in 2013 at age 30 and has since worked as an analyst for NBC Olympics while also starting the Apolo Ohno Invitational short track competition.

Ohno completed the 2014 Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in 9 hours, 52 minutes, 27 seconds.

He swam 2.4 miles (1:00:29), biked 112 miles (5:07:15) and ran a marathon (3:36:41) back to back to back. He finished within an hour of the women’s elite winner.

Ohno’s time was much faster than a pair of celebrities from the 2013 Ironman — former NFL wide receiver Hines Ward (13:08:15) and chef Gordon Ramsay (14:04:08).

MORE: Ohno talks Ironman, Olympic comparisons, Pyeongchang 2018