PYEONGCHANG/GANGNEUNG, South Korea — It’s not often that Olympic history is made in a loss, but that’s what happened for the joint Korean women’s hockey team at the PyeongChang Winter Games.
Forward Randi Heesoo Griffin scored the first goal ever for a Korean hockey team, men’s or women’s, in an Olympic game. It came in the second period of a 4-1 loss to Japan in Group B action at Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung.
Both Korea and Japan had been eliminated from medal contention prior to their showdown, each having lost two straight games. More so than the seeding for the classficiation round, where they will each face a losing team from the quarterfinals, there were regional bragging rights at stake.
Japan is world No. 9, while South Korea is No. 22 and North Korea is three spots below. Japan and the joint Korean team are the only two Asian teams in the eight-team women’s tournament, and Korea head coach Sarah Murray had said the winner of Wednesday’s game could be called the best team in Asia.
Japan retained the crown at least for another night. It scored two quick goals in the first period, and fended off a Korean charge before netting two more in the third period.
The two could meet again in PyeongChang before all is said and done. If both teams lose their first classification match, they will be down to the seventh place game, scheduled for next Tuesday, back at Kwandong Hockey Centre.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, former short track gold medalist Park Seung-hi made her Winter Olympic debut in speed skating, and it also turned out to be her final one.
Park, who won two short track gold medals at Sochi 2014, finished 16th in the women’s 1,000 meters at Gangneung Oval, with a time of 1:16.11.
In figure skating pairs, the South Korean team of Kim Kyu-eun and Kam Kang-chan placed last among 22 tandems in the short program at Gangneung Ice Arena. They will not get to compete in Thursday’s free skate, open only to the top 16 teams from the short program.
The North Korean duo of Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik performed a clean program for their personal best score of 69.40 points to place 11th. They will look to set a record for the highest Olympic finish by a North Korean pairs team, currently held by Ko Ok-ran and Kim Gwang-ho, who finished 18th at Albertville 1992.
While those indoor ice sports went on as scheduled, blustery conditions across Gangwon Province forced rescheduling of alpine skiing and biathlon events.
In alpine skiing, the women’s slalom was moved from 10:15 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. on Friday. This was the third time the Olympic organizers were forced to reschedule an alpine skiing event.
In addition to the alpine race, the women’s biathlon 15km individual event was postponed from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 5:15 Thursday. — YONHAP