PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) Yun Sungbin left no doubt. It’s his track. It’s his gold medal.
The most decisive Olympic skeleton champion ever is a 23-year-old who had no idea what he was doing on a sled a few years ago and now stands taller than anyone else in the sport.
Yun won in commanding fashion at the Pyeongchang Games on Friday, his four-run time of 3 minutes, 20.55 seconds easily coming in 1.63 seconds ahead of silver medalist Nikita Tregubov of Russia. Most skeleton races are decided by tenths or hundreths of a second, but Yun was dominant from start to finish – the fastest slider, in every way, in every heat.
He stepped onto the award podium shortly after finishing, arms skyward as thousands of his fellow South Koreans roared. They showed up early on a bright morning in the Taebaek Mountains, fully expecting to see the sort of dominance he himself envisioned when taking thousands of training runs on the track that was built for these Olympics, the track he knows better than anyone else in sliding.
”Yun! Sung! Bin!” they chanted, over and over. ”Yun! Sung! Bin!”
Happy New Year, indeed. On a national holiday in Korea – the start of a lunar new year – Yun became a national hero. He is the reigning World Cup overall champion, is now the Olympic champion and his career is only just starting.
”If you see the Korean guy, he has the best material,” Spain’s Ander Mirambell said. ”He will win this easy.”
It was the biggest victory margin in Olympic skeleton, topping 1948 when Italy’s Nino Bibbia topped Jack Heaton of the U.S. by 1.4 seconds in a six-heat race.
The only drama in the final heat was who would finish second. Tregubov won that battle, edging Dom Parsons of Britain. Latvia’s Martins Dukurs, the winningest World Cup men’s skeleton racer in history, struggled in the final run and slipped to fourth.
For the U.S., 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Matt Antoine was 11th and three-time Olympian John Daly was 16th.
For more AP Olympic coverage: https://www.wintergames.ap.org