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Young U.S. team falls short of earning short track medal at 2022 Winter Olympics

Young U.S. team falls short of earning short track medal at 2022 Winter Olympics
Posted at 12:08 AM, Feb 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-19 10:46:17-05

The considerably young United States short track team was unable to earn a medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics for the first time since the 1998 Games. 

Kristen Santos was the oldest member at 27, while the other four women's competitors ranged from 17 (Eunice Lee) to 22 (Maame Biney, the only team member with previous Olympic experience). The men only had two qualifiers: 26-year-old Ryan Pivirotto and 20-year-old Andrew Heo.

The U.S. lost veteran short track skater John-Henry Krueger to Hungary after a funding dispute with U.S. Speedskating led to a team switch. Krueger, who won silver for America in the men's 1000m at the 2018 Winter Olympics, earned bronze for Hungary in the mixed team relay this year. 

In that same mixed team relay, the U.S. put together a second-place performance in the semifinal to qualify for the final, only to receive a penalty that sent China through instead.

Santos was the only member of the U.S. team to reach a Final a and provided the best chance to reach the podium. But a couple of slight bumps was all it took to end her bid for a medal.

During the 1000m Final a, she was in third when contact with Italy's Arianna Fontana led to both skaters sliding off into the safety padding. Santos finished fourth. 

In the 1500m semifinal, she was moving on the outside trying to reach a top-two qualifying position when Hungary's Petra Jaszapati knocked Japanese skater Sumire Kikuchi toward Santos and the two collided.

The American did not fall, but she was shot well off course. Santos led the pace with five laps to go, but soon after was out of contention for a medal.

SEE MORE: Kristen Santos bumped out of women's 1500m semifinals

Santos called her fall in the 1000m heartbreaking. She won five individual heats but lost out on her two most opportune chances to earn a podium finish due to contact created by other skaters.

"Being in medal position going into the last lap and crashing is absolutely heartbreaking, especially when you know you had more to give," Santos wrote on Instagram after the race.

While several team members mentioned they had mixed feelings regarding the Olympic output, there's an upside to the young Americans' performances that could spell future Olympic success. 

Despite the lack of hardware, several American short track skaters posted messages of pride regarding their performances on social media. Corrine Stoddard and Biney grabbed top-10 finishes in the Women's 1000m, and Heo did the same on the men's side. They made progress in their careers at the Olympics and will each be 26 or younger by the 2026 Games.

SEE MORE: Maame Biney wins women's 1000m heat

From the U.S. athletes

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