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Short track speedskater Viktor Ahn set to return to South Korea as Russian athlete

Viktor Ahn

Viktor Ahn (front) of Russia competes in the men’s 1500m final race during the ISU Short Track World Cup speed skating competition in Shanghai December 8, 2012. Ahn won the gold medal. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: SPORT SPEED SKATING)


One of the more intriguing non-American stories of the Sochi Olympics will come in short track speedskating.

There, a rivalry could brew between a South Korean-born Russian and the always powerful South Korean team.

Viktor Ahn, who won four medals as Ahn-Hyun Soo for South Korea at the 2006 Olympics, could be the biggest threat to South Korean supremacy in Sochi. He also won five straight world overall championships from 2003-07.

Ahn did not qualify for the deep South Korean team for the 2010 Olympics. In December 2011, he gained Russian citizenship, citing a lack of support from the South Korean short track association.

He is now the best Russian short track speedskater. Russia owns one Olympic medal ever in short track (as the Unified Team), which has been an Olympic sport since 1992.

This weekend, Ahn will compete in South Korea as a Russian for the first time at the World Cup stop in Seoul. South Korea is notoriously known for using team tactics to block out the likes of Apolo Ohno in the past.

Will there be special rules for racing against Ahn?

“Ahn will be just one of the foreign skaters,” South Korea short track coach Yoon Jae-myung said, according to Yonhap News. “We won’t do anything special to keep him in check.”

Sin Da-woon, the reigning world overall champion, said he’s more concerned about Canadian Charles Hamelin, the 2010 Olympic champion in the 500 meters. Those comments could light a fire under Ahn.

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