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U.S. short track skater wins bronze, Korean women break two world records

KEARNS — The bronze medal hanging around John-Henry Krueger’s neck wasn’t just a symbol of what he accomplished in Saturday’s World Cup at the Utah Olympic Oval.

It is a tangible reminder that he’s capable of achieving of the very dreams he’s been working toward for years.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Krueger, after finishing third in the 1500-meter short track race with a time of 2:11.898. “Last year, I had a bit of a down year. I didn’t get any individual medals — just a came out with a bronze in the relay. It makes me feel like it’s possible again; it gives me a lot of confidence in upcoming World Cups.”

Canada’s Samuel Girard won gold (2:11.620) and Hungary’s Shaolin Sander Liu was second (2:11.807). Korea’s da Woon Sin was skating right in front of Krueger when he fell just before the third-to-last turn of the race. Falls and physical skating are familiar aspects for short track racers like Krueger, who said his goals were centered more on strategy than strength.

“Normally when you see a skater fall like that, you want to build up wide on the corner and cut tight so you can avoid the collision,” he said. “Luckily, I timed it perfect and I was able to avoid the crash and take third.”

He said the support of the hometown crowd was nice, but it didn’t make the hardware any more significant.

“I try to expect a medal every World Cup,” he said of winning his 14th World Cup medal, third in Utah. “I have the potential to do it. I’ve done it before in previous World Cup seasons. “I don’t feel special about this medal. It’s something I need to keep on doing consistently.”

The Korean team had a successful day with two world records for the women’s team. Minjeong Choi not only won gold, she earned a world record in the 1500-meter semifinal with a time of 2:14.354. She said the world record was the result of several factors coming together Saturday night.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “The ice conditions (were) very good. Me too, my conditions were very good. And the support of the Korean team; they supported me.”

Canada’s Marianne St. Gelais was second (2:44.386), while her teammate Marie-Eve Drolet was third (2:45.233) 2014 Olympian and Team USA veteran Jessica Kooreman finished fifth in the B Final of the 1500-meter race.

“The semi was a bit tough, but I thought it was doable,” she said. “I just didn’t have the legs at the end like I’m used to having. Now I know what I need to change and hopefully work on it in the next few weeks and lucky for me, I have a whole lot of season to get that under control. … When I needed the strength to buckle down, I just didn’t have the gas today.”

In the women’s 1000-meter event, Katherine Reutter finished fifth with a time of 1:46.639. The two-time Olympic medalist came out of retirement after three years and felt very validated by Saturday’s result as it’s only the second World Cup of the season.

Korean Jiyoo Kim won the gold with a time of 1:29, while Suzanne Schuting, Netherlands, was second with 1:29.882, and Zofia Konya, Hungary, was third finishing in 1:30.146.

Reutter broke the American record in the quarterfinals of the 1000, a mark she set in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (1:29.324), with a time of 1:28.762.

“I’m really happy because I had the American record before, so to break my own record, I think is really validating,” she said. “I mean, I’ve only been training for six months. … So I’m happy I made this decision (to return to competition).”

She said she isn’t worrying at all about her results — only the process. Her goal Saturday was to finish top 8, and she exceeded that, even after falling and having to recover just to finish.

“I really look at it like, I’m taking my medicine, and it tastes really bad, but it’s going to work,” she said laughing. “You know if you keep taking your medicine, you’re going to get better.”

Email: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

Twitter: adonsports