Won Yun-jong (left), the pilot, and Seo Young-woo, the brakeman, finished the 2016-2017 BMW IBSF World Cup in third place after they came in fifth in the men’s bobsleigh race, the final race of the season, at the Alpensia Sliding Center in Pyeongchang on March 18.
“Third place in the world!”
That’s where Korea’s two-man bobsleigh racers stand in the world. It’s safe to say that the result is sort of a miracle, in that Korea used to be a barren landscape for bobsleigh.
However, third place seemed not to gratify Won Yun-jong, the pilot, and Seo Young-woo, the brakeman. The two held the championship title in the men’s bobsleigh in the 2015-2016 season last year, and third place, this time, falls short of their expectations.
The duo finished in fifth place in the two-man bobsleigh race in the 2016-2017 BMW International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup, held at the Alpensia Sliding Center in Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do Province, on March 18, one of the main venues for next year’s PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
The racers ended with a time of 1:41.22 after two runs -- 132.6 seconds in the first run, and then 131.2 seconds in the second -- and were edged out by the German champion team of Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis by 0.4 seconds.
After finishing the World Cup in third place with all the scores combined for the 2016-2017 season, Yun said, “After a good fight in the first run, I got confident that I would win. However, I was too nervous in the next race, which led to a regretful end.”
In the four-man race a day later on March 19, the pilot Yun steered his sled, together with Kim Jin-su and Lee Gyeongmin, both pushmen, and Oh Jea-han, the brakeman, and ended up in seventh place.
Won Yun-jong and Seo Young-woo of Korea cross the finish line in the men’s bobsleigh race in the 2016-2017 BMW IBSF World Cup, at the Alpensia Sliding Center in Pyeongchang on March 18.
Despite no medal in the test event on their home track, the Korean racers saw a ray of hope for next year’s Olympic Winter Games. “I didn’t do well on curves No. 2 and 9, which are the most challenging on the track,” said Yun. “Only if I master these curves will I be able to find myself on the podium in both the two-man and four-man races next year,” the racer added.
“I’ll do my best every day until the Olympic Games. My goal is, of course, to win a gold,” he said.
“It doesn’t seem like a long shot. I guess we'll be able to get our hands on at least one gold medal in one of the races. I noticed that in today’s race,” said head coach Lee Yong of the Korean bobsleigh and skeleton team. “It seems that having to retrieve the champion title that Team Korea won in the 2015-2016 season might have given them more of a burden. However, it would be great to keep a little behind in the rankings and to emerge as a winner in Pyeongchang,” said the coach with a smile.
“We’ll use a sled manufactured by Hyundai Motor and we’ll make it perfect for racing. We’ll also be able to enjoy home-track advantage, which could influence the record. We’ll try harder until then to gain the best records on this home track next year,” Lee said.
Won Yun-jong and Seo Young-woo of Korea (right) hold up their trophies, along with Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis of Germany in first place (middle), and Steven Holcomb and Carlo Vales of the U.S. (left) in second place, during the awards ceremony after they finished in third place in the world in the men’s bobsleigh in the BMW IBSF World Cup in Pyeongchang on March 18.