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  • Speedskaters from Different NOCs Team Up


    (ATR) Youth Olympic Games athletes became the United Nations in the long track speedskating Mixed NOC team sprint Wednesday.

    Victory ceremony for long track speedskating Mixed NOC team sprint (ATR)
    Sumiya Buyantogtokh of Mongolia, Noemi Bonazza of Italy, Hanyang Shen of China and Jae Woong Chung of Korea teamed up for the gold as part of the dryly named “Team 6.” Chung crossed the finish line at the Hamar Olympic Hall Viking Ship in 1 minute, 57.85 seconds.

    Bonazza said she learned that “in this sport and sport in general, it doesn’t matter if you are Italian or Chinese or whatever. If you work together with people who have your same passion, it’s a good thing.”

    And while she called it “strange” sharing the same step of the podium with athletes from other countries, Bonazza said it was “also nice because we did a race all together, so if we won the gold, all the team won the gold -- not just one person.”

    However, other athletes surely shared the sentiment of bronze medalist Allan Dahl Johannson of Norway, who said, “Of course, it would be nice to stand there with all Norwegians, but it was nice to be there with my team and it was a great team victory.”

    Other Mixed NOC team events will be held in figure skating and short track speed skating, both on Saturday.

    One of the long track speedskating Mixed NOC teams (ATR)
    Thirteen mixed teams took the ice at the Vikingskipet for the event which made its international debut earlier this year at the Junior World Championships. The Mixed Team Sprint could eventually become an Olympic event, but presumably with all team members from the same country.

    To make the teams as equal as possible, they were seeded so that women ranked No. 1-14 based on their 500-meter finish would be placed on Teams 1-14, and those ranked 15-28 would be placed in reverse order. The men, seeded according to the 1,500, were placed so that No. 14 was on Team 1 and No. 1 on Team 14, etc.

    They only had one day to train together, led by a coach often from an unrelated country. That meant that in keeping with the “Learn & Share” philosophy, they had to learn to work together and three teams shared a medal, while one shared a crash.

    Inside the Viking Ship (ATR)
    In all but the first race, two teams started at opposite sides of the oval for the four-lap race.

    The first lap was led by a woman, who then dropped off. A woman also led the second lap before leaving the race. Then two men skated, and finally a male skater finished alone.

    Team 9 won the silver medal, composed of Karolina Gasecka of Poland, Elisa Dul of the Netherlands, Anvar Mukhamadeyev of Kazakhstan and Austin Kleba of the U.S. Their time of 1:58.80 barely edged Team 10 at 1:58.87. 

    The members of the bronze-medal winning team were Mihaela Hogas of Germany, Chiara Cristelli of Italy, Ole Jeske of Germany and Johansson.

    For the victory ceremony, three Olympic flags – white background with five rings – were raised next to one of the most colorful podiums of the YOG while the Olympic Anthem played.

    Although some athletes couldn’t communicate very well off the ice, on the ice they all spoke the language of skating.

    Written by Karen Rosen in Hamar, Norway.

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