Salt Lake City – M 1500 & W 3000 relay short track speed skating
Weaseling has happened before. I suspect since the dawn of time, weasels have honed their craft. We had just never witnessed it on ice.
At our first Olympic games, we decided to take in a different sport. We had already attended a couple of men’s hockey games, so in an attempt to mix things up, we checked out short track speed skating. We were blown away.
To the uninitiated, short track speed skating is quite the spectacle. It’s a whirlwind of speed, strategy, physics-defying balance, and perhaps above all – weaseling.
What we learned is that it’s not quite enough to merely be a very fast skater, you also need to be able to cut off your opponent, while getting away with it. Apparently there are rules forbidding blatant impeding (or “tracking”) of your fellow competitors, so the athletes have to be subtle about it.
Our first-ever short track speed skating event was a memorable bit of history. In the men’s 1500 m final, South Korean Kim Dong-Sung appeared to win over young rival Apolo Anton Ohno. But as Dong-Sung was celebrating on the ice waving a South Korean flag, the judges ruled that he illegally obstructed Ohno during a pass attempt, and thus was disqualified. The hometown crowd went wild as Ohno’s silver was upgraded to gold, and the birth of weaseling was complete.
It helped that we were seated next to a Canadian short track speed skater (and 4 time Olympic medallist), Tania Vicent. Tania was the 5th member of the 3000 m relay team. She had already helped the team during the semi-final several days earlier, and was now cheering on her teammates during the final. She gave us valuable viewing tips that we recite regularly, sounding like short track experts. Thank you Tania!