Friday was a good day for Victor Ahn. A doubly good day.
Friday saw the Korean-born short track star earn two golds for Russia, one in the men’s 500m and one as the anchor for the men’s 5000m relay, to bring his Olympic gold count up to six – three as Victor Ahn, three as South Korea’s Ahn Hyun-Soo.
He’s also equaled retired U.S. legend and NBC Olympics analyst Apolo Ohno for the most Olympic short track medals with eight.
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Throw in his other Sochi gold from the 1000m and Ahn has emerged as one of the Sochi Olympics’ top performers with medals in all four of his events (he got the bronze in the 1500m).
And if not for Adelina Sotnikova’s triumph in ladies’ figure skating, he would likely be the host nation’s “Most Valuable Player” in these Games.
Ahn made his presence felt late in both of his wins on Friday.
In the 500m, he let his competitors fight it out ahead of him and slid to the back. Then when it came time to go, he went with a bang.
He quickly charged to second on the outside with two laps remaining, and then just after the bell sounded for the final lap, he made the race-winning pass on the inside of China’s Wu Dajing.
The Russian crowd roared in appreciation for their adopted star, and it wouldn’t be the only time they did so at the Iceberg Skating Palace.
The men’s 5000m relay started off with a crash between skaters from China and the Netherlands in the very first corner, instantly making the 45-lap race a two-team fight between the Russians and the Americans.
Team USA’s Chris Creveling took the lead with 15 laps to go, but there was still plenty of time for Ahn to do what he does.
With seven to go, Ahn moved to the point past J.R. Celski and was able to hold on in the final laps, applauding as he crossed the finish line.
The crowd returned that applause happily, paying homage to the king of short track.