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Maame Biney defends world junior 500m title

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Maame Biney got an early birthday present.

The 2018 Olympian defended her title in the 500m at the World Junior Championships this past weekend in Montreal, Quebec. In the quarterfinal round, she set a junior world record with a time of 43.212.

“I love it,” Biney said of her win, according to U.S. Speedskating. “I felt really good and skated really well. It’s a really good birthday gift, because my birthday is in two days.” (She turned 19 on January 28).

“I know where I am and I know I can get better,” she said. “This is just a representation of what can happen in the future.”

Biney, who was born in Ghana and raised in Virginia by a single father, had her breakthrough moment at the World Junior Championships in 2017, when she won bronze in the 500m. The bubbly teenager had a dominant showing at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 500m to earn a spot on her first Olympic team, becoming the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic short track team. Her best finish in South Korea was 14th in the 500m.

Since the Olympics, Biney graduated high school and started college at the University of Utah.

Biney will compete in the fifth World Cup of the 2018-19 season this weekend in Dresden, Germany.

 

Embrace the chaos: Wild short-track nights are a crowd pleaser

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea _ Less than five seconds into the first women’s 500-meter quarterfinal, one skater slammed into the wall and another was about to be disqualified.

In the very next race, a wipeout right before the finish meant Canada’s Kim Boutin slid to a second-place finish on her backside.

One race was so close that a winner wasn’t immediately listed and a photo finish was called. Turns out the Netherlands’ Yara van Kerkhof beat Great Britian’s Elise Christie by .002 of a second.

NBCOlympics.com: Arianna Fontana wins 500m gold

Welcome to the world of short-track speedskating, where the action’s fast, the music’s loud and 11-year-old American fan Sean Patrick O’Connor got exactly what he wanted.

The O’Connor family – including Pat, Joan, Justin, Sean Patrick and six-year-old Evan Anthony – wanted to see a handful of sports this February when they came to the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Besides hockey, the short track was high on their list.

It’s easy to see why. The demolition derby of the Winter Olympics is a crowd pleaser and immensely popular in South Korea. Gangneung Ice Arena was almost completely filled on Tuesday night and almost every single race – 17 in all – was an absolute nail-biter.

Read the rest of the story here, and catch up on the rest of the action around PyeongChang

Jessica Kooreman, Thomas Hong, Ryan Pivirotto earn last three spots on U.S. Olympic short track team

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Jessica Kooreman, Thomas Hong and Ryan Pivirotto grabbed the last three spots on the U.S. Olympic short track team on Sunday as competition wrapped up at the Olympic Trials.

Kooreman survived a fall in the last women’s race of the Trials, the 1000m #2 A Final, to finish second overall in the 1000m and earn a spot on the team that will race on Olympic ice in PyeongChang.

Kooreman, a 2014 Olympian, joined Lana Gehring, a 2010 Olympian and Maame Biney, a 17-year-old who will make her Olympic debut in 2018, on the U.S. Olympic women’s short track team.

At 34 years old, Kooreman will be the veteran of the team. Four years ago, she swept all three events at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials and then finished fourth in the 1000m at the Sochi Winter Games.

She struggled to breakthrough to the top spots at this Trials; she finished third overall in both the 1500m on Friday and 500m on Saturday.

Left off the team is Katherine-Reutter Adamek, a two-time Olympic medalist from Vancouver who retired in 2013 due to injuries before coming back in 2016 in hopes of making another Olympic team. Reutter is the American record holder and Olympic silver medalist in the 1000m, but her Olympic aspirations ended when she didn’t qualify for the 1000m #2 A Final today.

Hong, a native of South Korea who moved to the U.S. at 4 years old, finished fourth in the men’s 1000m #2 A Final, and fourth overall. Pivirotto didn’t qualify for that A Final, and had to watch from the sidelines as his Olympic fate was decided. Pivirotto clinched the fifth and final spot by finishing fifth overall across all distances.

The overall winner on the men’s side was John-Henry Krueger, who was nearly undefeated over the three days of racing and won four of six A Finals: both 1000m finals today, the 500m #2 final yesterday and the 1500m #2 final on Friday. 22-year-old Krueger was expected to make the Olympic team four years ago, but had to withdraw from some races at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials when he was diagnosed with swine flu.

J.R. Celski, the only member of the team with prior Olympic experience, had an uncharacteristically rough Trials with four falls in three days. However his results when he did stay on his skates were good enough to put him into second-place overall. The third overall men’s skater was Aaron Tran, who also make the Olympic team.

The U.S. Olympic short track team:

Lana Gehring
Maame Biney
Jessica Kooreman
John-Henry Krueger
J.R. Celski
Aaron Tran
Thomas Hong
Ryan Pivirotto

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MORE: J.R. Celski, Maame Biney join U.S. Olympic short track team