United States Speed Skating Men’s Relay Team Advance To 5,000 Meters Final Despite Crash

The United States speed skating men’s relay team will advance to the 5,000 meters final in spite of a crash that sent one of its members crashing into to protective barrier at the Iceberg Skating Palace on an eventful Thursday.

Coach Stephen Gough was breathing a sigh of relief when the call came from race officials that the US was in the finals, after the crash between South Korea’s Ho-Suk Lee and American Eddy Alvarez.

Lee interfered with Alvarez — with only four laps to go — and both were sent flying into the padded sides, but the United States managed to finish in fourth place.

Americans were visibly upset and shook their heads in frustration thinking that all the hard work for the last four years was in vain, but officials got together to review the incident.

After what seemed like an interminable few minutes the judges came back with a decision: because of the South Korea skater’s interference, the United States would be in the final February 21. Officials penalized the team from South Korea.

“That was the race to get through,” Alvarez said. “Now we’ve just got to let the tiger out of his cage.”

Eddy Alvarez later took to Twitter to share the moment:

Many consider the 5,000 meter relay the United States’ best chance to medal in short-track speed skating at the Sochi Winter Games.

Two-time Olympic bronze medalist J.R. Celski said, “The moments between the fall and the call, there was a lot of doubt and just disbelief that we didn’t make it into the final.”

Meanwhile Alvarez — who is a former shortstop — commented:

“I was nervous, extremely nervous, because you just never know how the calls are going to go. We’re just happy it went our way.”

The United States was not the only one having problems on the track Thursday, in a shocking development, Canada — Olympic gold medalist in three of the last four Games — also crashed, but unlike the Americans, did not advance.

With the South Koreans — the 2006 gold medalists — out of contention and the Canadians also out, the finals will be without two of the favorites coming into the competition.

In the women’s 500 meters, the United States was eliminated when first time Olympian Emily Scott got third place in her quarterfinals heat.

[Images Via Twitter]