Where EAST meets the Northwest
"YUN! SUNG! BIN!" Yun Sungbin of South Korea starts a run during the menís
skeleton competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Yunís four-run time of 3 minutes, 20.55 seconds was a staggering 1.63 seconds
ahead of the silver medallist and the largest victory margin in Olympic skeleton
history. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
From The Asian Reporter, V28, #4 (February 19, 2018), page 9.
Yunís the one: South Korea gets menís skeleton Olympic gold
By Tim Reynolds
The Associated Press
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea ó Somehow, Yun Sungbin felt no pressure.
Heís a 23-year-old who was expected to win gold and nothing else at the
PyeongChang Olympics, in his home country, with thousands of his countrymen
showing up early to chant his name and await a coronation.
A daunting task? Not for skeletonís new king.
Yun won for fun at these Olympics, dominant by every single measure. His
four-run time of 3 minutes, 20.55 seconds was a staggering 1.63 seconds ahead of
silver medallist Nikita Tregubov of Russia ó the largest victory margin in
Olympic skeleton history, and the largest margin in any Olympic sliding event
"There was no reason to feel any pressure," Yun said. "I mean, itís my home
track. So I can really feel at home here. And I think that I always believed it
would come out greatly if I do the same things Iíve always done."
Someone, someday, might win a skeleton race at the Olympics by a bigger
margin. But the totality of what Yun did canít be topped, only matched. He had
the fastest start in all four runs. There are four spots on the course where
split times were taken; he had the fastest one in all four of those, every time.
So of course, he had the fastest finish in every heat as well.
Yunís lead kept growing and growing: 0.31 seconds after one heat, 0.74
seconds after two, 1.02 seconds after three. He set the start record then
lowered his own track record in the final heat, going all-out even on his final
slide and becoming the first South Korean to win a gold medal in any sliding
Put simply, none of the other 29 men ever had a chance.
"He smashed it," said Britainís Dom Parsons, who won the bronze.
Did he ever.
Most skeleton races are decided by tenths or hundredths of a second. The
average winning margin in a menís World Cup skeleton race this season was 0.37
seconds. Matt Antoine of the U.S. is a World Cup race winner; he finished these
Olympics in 11th place, 3.84 seconds behind Yun.
"Iím looking at this right now as the whole of my career, the last 15-plus
years," Antoine said. "This is just one race. The result is what it is. To be
here, with my family here, everyone supporting me, thatís all I could have asked
John Daly, the other American in the field, was 16th in his third Olympics.
Yun stepped onto the award podium shortly after finishing, arms skyward as
his fans roared. They showed up early on a bright morning in the Taebaek
Mountains, fully expecting to see the sort of dominance he himself envisioned
when taking thousands of training runs on the track that was built for these
Olympics, the track he knows better than anyone else in sliding.
"Yun! Sung! Bin!" they chanted, over and over. "Yun! Sung! Bin!"
"Getting the gold medal in any Olympics is a very great result," Yun said.
"But getting the gold here in my home country is a very great honor, much bigger
Happy New Year, indeed. On a national holiday in South Korea ó the start of
the Lunar New Year ó Yun became a national hero.
"Yun Sungbin is a very strong athlete," Tregubov said. "I believe he has no
minuses. Excellent start. He stays calm. Excellent technique. He is better than
There was no shame in saying that. Yun was better than everyone.
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