When it comes to short track speed skating, South Korea is the only superpower in the world.
The Asian country skated to six gold, three silver and one bronze medals, perching atop the medal standings. It is followed by China with a 1-1-3 record and the United States 1-0-2.
"We use the strength to skate, which is a traditional way, while South Korea's performance relies on their skating skill. That's why they did not show fatigue in the long-distance competition," said Tong Lixin, the Chinese team leader.
"It showed a new trend in short track speed skating."
South Korea opened the short track competitions with a gold and a silver in the men's 1,500m, won by Ahn Hyun-soo and his teammate Lee Ho-suk. Li Jiajun of China took a bronze.
Then in the men's 1,000m, South Korea finished a 1-2 again as Ahn held off a strong challenge from teammate Lee Ho-suk and American Apolo Anton Ohno to win his second gold medal with a Games record.
"When Ahn surpassed me from outside, I felt like there was a jet plane passing by," Ohno, the bonze winner in the men's 1,000m, said after the competition.
"At the speed we were going, I was looking for the slightest mistake, the slightest space, but there was nothing," he added.
Ohno won the men's 500 meters on Saturday, winning his first title of the Games and spoiling Ahn Hyun-soo's bid to clean sweep the men's golds.
China won the sole gold from Wang Meng in the women's 500m, who beat Bulgarian veteran Evgenia Radanova and Canadian Anouk Leblanc-Boucher.
In the women's 1,500m, 17-year-old Jin Sun-yu, who has dominated over 1,500m this season, overtook the group a few turns from the end and pulled away to cross the finish first. Her teammate Choi Eun-Kyung took the silver.
South Korean Byun Chun-Sa crossed third but was disqualified, giving the bronze to Wang Meng.
Jin won her second gold on the last day of short track competitions, using a burst of speed in the final straightaway to take the women's 1,000m title.
The relay competition is one of the most exciting events in short track, and South Koreans did not let the two golds slip away.
In the women's 3,000m relay, South Korea clinched its fourth gold while its long-time rival China was disqualified for impeding.
"We won the gold medal because we trained hard for years long. We have had ups and downs but finally we are on the top," Choi Eun-Kyung of South Korea said at the press conference.
South Korea made it four golds in a row in the women's short track relay since the 1994 Games, and China has won the silver twice in the 1998 and 2002 Games.
Canada overtook China in the last lap for the silver and host Italy received the bronze, its only medal on short track.
"We did not felt regretful in the women's relay, because South Koreans are really great. We have already shown our best," Tong said.
South Korea kept its momentum by battling through the most exciting men's 5,000 meters relay final for its sixth gold on Saturday.
(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2006)