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China, South Korea ready to rumble in short track

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 17, 2014 at 5:01 pm •  Published: February 17, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The last two individual short track events of the Sochi Olympics get underway with heats in the men's 500 and women's 1,000 meters.

The only final on Tuesday is the women's 3,000-meter relay, featuring China and South Korea in a rematch of the dramatic final four years ago in Vancouver.

In the men's 500 heats, Viktor Ahn of Russia opens his bid to become the first skater ever to win a gold medal in all four short track events. Ahn won his adopted country's first gold in the sport in the 1,000 on home ice, and he earned a bronze in the 1,500. Born in Seoul, Ahn became a Russian citizen in 2011, after winning gold medals in the 1,000, 1,500 and 5,000 relay for South Korea at the 2006 Winter Games.

In the women's 1,000 heats, Park Seung-hi, Shim Suk-hee and Kim Alang give South Korea a powerful trio of medal contenders.

Here are five things to watch for on Day 4 of short track at Iceberg Sports Palace:

WOMEN'S 3,000 FINAL: It's China vs. South Korea, Round 2. In 2010, South Korea crossed the finish line first only to be disqualified for impeding. China was awarded the gold, Canada took silver and the U.S. earned bronze. The Koreans were left in tears. Short track's two superpowers will go at it again in Sochi. The Koreans are ranked first in the World Cup standings, having won three of four events during the season, with China taking the other title. The Korean team of Shim Suk-hee, Kim, Park and Cho Ha-ri recently set a world record in the relay. Also vying for medals are Canada and Italy.

WOMEN'S 1,000 HEATS: South Korea has dominated this event, winning gold at four of the last six Olympics. Defending champion Wang of China broke her ankle last month and was forced to miss the games. Park won the bronze in Vancouver, and will try to move up on the podium. Alang is ranked second in the world in the 1,000.

FONTANA GOES FOR 3: Arianna Fontana of Italy tries to become the second woman to medal in all three individual short track events at a single Winter Games. She earned silver in the 500 and bronze in the 1,500 in Sochi. She can equal China's Wang Meng by winning a medal in the 1,000, but first she'll have to get through three rounds of racing to reach Friday's final. Fontana's fiance, U.S.-born Anthony Lobello, will skate in the 500 heats for Italy.

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