Shim unable to participate in National Winter Sports Festival

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Shim Suk-hee runs during the 2020 National Winter Sports Festival on February 18, 2020 at Tancheon Sports Complex in Seongnam, Gyeonggi. [YONHAP]

Short-track speed skater Shim Suk-hee will not participate in the National Winter Sports Festival which kicks off at Uiam Ice Rink in Chuncheon, Gangwon on Friday.

Shim was serving a two-month suspension from the Korean short track team which ended earlier this week, a day after the end of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, but is still unable to compete in the best Korean winter sports tournament.

On December 21, two months before the Beijing Games, Shim was suspended from the national team for two months for insulting her teammates during the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and effectively kicked out of the Korean national team.

Even though Shim’s suspension has now been lifted, she was unable to apply to compete in the National Winter Sports Festival as athletes are not allowed to apply while on suspension.

However, Shim is now technically able to join the national team and compete in the ISU World Championships starting March 18 in Montreal, Canada. However, the nature of the suspension – for insulting other athletes – raises questions about whether Shim will actually be able to rejoin the team and return to training.

Text messages showing Shim insulting her teammates during the PyeongChang Games were published as part of the written opinion of lawyers for former national team coach Cho Jae-beom, who is currently in jail for sexually assaulting and physically Shim. The text messages also sparked an investigation into whether Shim was involved in the race-fixing, although she was later cleared.

The alleged race-fixing charges date back to the collision between Shim and Choi Min-jeong in the women’s 1,000 meters final at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics, when the two fell while turning the final corner. After a video review, Shim was disqualified and Choi missed out on a medal, taking fourth place.

Shim had sought an injunction against the disciplinary action on January 6, but was denied by a Seoul court on January 19, barring him from competing at the Beijing Games.

On February 18, Choi returned from Beijing as the Korean athlete with the most medals from the 2022 Winter Olympics. Choi won gold in the women’s 1,500 meters, silver in the 3,000 relay meters and silver in the women’s 1,000 meters at the Games.

Olympians Hwang Dae-heon, Park Jang-hyuk, Kim Dong-wook, Lee Yu-bin and Seo Whi-min will compete in the National Winter Sports Festival’s short track competition, while Choi, Kim A-lang and Kwak Yoon-gy missed the tournament.

BY YUN SO-HYANG [[email protected]]

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