Kim Min-sun named World Cup champion but narrowly misses sweep
Kim Min-sun won a silver medal in the women’s 500 meters at the sixth International Skating Union (ISU) Speed Skating World Cup in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland on Friday, missing the chance of becoming the first ever Korean skater to sweep the World Cup season in the final race this year.
The 23-year-old Korean skater marked the end of the 2022-23 World Cup season with five golds and one silver after winning silver last Friday. She finished the 500 meters in 38.08 seconds, just 0.12 seconds behind gold medalist Vanessa Herzog of Austria.
Kim had won five gold medals in the previous five World Cup events with some impressive times in the 500 meters. She started the first World Cup of the season in the best possible way, becoming the first Korean to take gold in the women’s 500 meters in the World Cup since Korean skating legend Lee Sang-hwa with a time of 37.55 seconds.
That gold medal in the first World Cup of the season, however, was just the beginning. Kim continued to display her class in the second World Cup as she won another gold with a time of 37.21 seconds.
As if that time in the second World Cup was not enough, Kim shortened it further to 36.97 seconds in the third World Cup, adding another gold to her trophy cabinet. She was also the only skater to finish the 500 meters under 37 seconds in that tournament.
Kim maintained that momentum in the fourth World Cup as she finished the 500 meters with a time of 36.96 seconds, adding yet another gold medal. That was also her best time of the season.
Riding a four-race winning streak, Kim started looking at the possibility of a World Cup sweep this weekend.
“To challenge something is exciting and nerve wracking and I’ll be really happy if I achieve that,” Kim said during an interview with SBS on Feb. 10.
The Korean skating ace continued to challenge for the sweep as she won her fifth gold medal in the fifth tournament with a time of 37.90 seconds.
Although that was not her best time this season, it was still enough to top the pack as Herzog came in second with a time of 38.09 seconds.
The Austrian skater was Kim’s biggest competitor in the final World Cup as well. Kim managed to finish the race in 38.08 seconds in Pair 8 and briefly topped the table, but Herzog beat her racing in Pair 9 with a time of 37.96 to snatch the gold medal.
Despite missing her sixth gold medal of the season, Kim still finished as the overall World Cup champion in the women’s 500 meters with 354 points, significantly higher than Herzog, who came in second with 301.
This is by far Kim’s best season on the World Cup circuit. Her first and only medal in the tournament prior to this season was a bronze medal she managed last season.
The times and medals she managed this season prove that Kim has established herself as Lee’s successor, although she still needs to do a lot more to surpass the Korean skating legend.
Lee, who retired in 2019, won 37 gold medals in the World Cup and earned two golds in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.
Kim, on the other hand, has yet to win a medal in the Olympics despite having raced in the tournament twice in 2018 and 2022.
She will participate in the World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships next month in Heerenveen, the Netherlands.
BY PAIK JI-HWAN [email@example.com]