It wasn’t the way Apolo Ohno envisioned making U.S. Olympic history. But in the unpredictable world of short-track speedskating, it’s a break Ohno will gladly take. During the last quarter lap of the men’s 1,500-m competition on Feb. 13, three South Korean skaters were leading the race and set to sweep the medals. But two got tangled up and crashed into the padding, allowing Ohno to slip behind South Korean Lee Jung Su to capture silver and tie with Bonnie Blair’s record for most Winter Olympics medals won by an American, six (he broke the record the following week, winning bronze in the 1,000-m event, and ended the Olympics with a record eight after taking bronze in the 5,000-m team relay).
The crash wasn’t South Korea’s only tough break in short-track speedskating. On Feb. 24, the women’s team, the four-time defending Olympic champs in the 3,000-m relay, was disqualified from that race for clicking skates with China, which won gold. The Australian judge who made the controversial call, Jim Hewish, was the same man who disqualified a South Korean skater at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, a decision that allowed Ohno to clinch his first gold medal. In his last individual race, the 500-m on Feb. 26, Ohno himself was disqualified for bumping a Canadian skater, François-Louis Tremblay, and sending him into the padding.