John-Henry Krueger wins 1000m silver, ends U.S. speed skating's medal drought
It wasn't pretty, but John-Henry Krueger won the United States' first individual speed skating medal since 2010.
A crash in the final knocked out most of the field, leaving only Krueger and gold medalist Samuel Girard standing.
Krueger's road to the Olympic podium has been a long one. In 2009, Krueger was plagued with an illness throughout the Olympic Trials that led him to miss out on the Sochi Games. After regaining health Krueger had a breakout season in 2014-15, but has recently struggled finishing on the podium just once this past season.
"It's the ultimate redemption. I'm finally able to put away the story about how I was a young kid who had swine flu and ended up missing the Olympics," Krueger said after the race. "Now I'm the young kid from Pittsburgh who came back from an adversity and who ended up being the top in the world."
In the quarterfinal, Krueger was seemignly elminated, but was given another chance after Sjinkie Knegt was penalized for imepeding, to Knegt's dismay.
“I thought I clearly passed him but the decision was different, so be it. Part of the sport,” Knegt said to the ISU.
In the 1500m, Krueger was in the same position as Knegt.
"Earlier in the 1500m there was a call I disagreed with but short track is about taking the good calls and the bad calls. During the 1500m I took the bad call and during the 1000m I took the good call. That is all."
In the semifinal, Krueger was able to stay towards the front of the pack throughout, avoiding any contact.
"The most important part of short track is keeping your composure and calmness," Krueger said to the media. "The quarterfinal definitely wasn't my best race but after the quarterfinal I decided, with my coach, that I needed to skate up front and be confident in what I had been training for."
Seo Yi-Ra was the fastest person to get up from the crash in the final and took bronze, South Korea's fifth medal of the Games.
"I fell but I managed to get back up. I wasn't that proud at the time but then I thought, 'Oh I got third place'," Seo said to the media.
Lim Hyo-Jun, Shaolin Sandor Liu, Seo, Girard, and Krueger made up the final.
Following the B semifinal judges reviewed the race for over five minutes, ultimately penalzing 1000m Olympic record holder Charles Hamelin and advancing Girard.
World record holder Hwang Dae-Heon was involved in a collision with his countryman Lim Hyo-Jun at the finish line in the quarterfinal and was penalized.