Posted: Feb 25, 8:01p ET | Updated: Feb 26, 3:49a ET

Men's relay final will be Friday night fight

Ohno will anchor U.S. team against fired-up South Koreans
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Apolo Ohno is bracing for chaos as he goes for two more medals on the final night of Olympic short track. He'll be one of 20 skaters careening around the rink in the 5000m relay, knowing South Korea is out to avenge its loss of three medals through disqualification.

Ohno also goes for an individual gold medal Friday night in the 500m, a pell-mell dash that often rewards the fastest skater off the starting line.

He's already America's most decorated Winter Olympian with seven career medals, having added a silver and a bronze at the Vancouver Games -- half of the United States' total in short track.

"I understand that Apolo cherishes the journey more than the destination," teammate Simon Cho said, "but while on the journey, why not snatch up a couple more gold medals while you're at it?"

In what could be his third and final Olympics, Ohno will anchor the U.S. team of Cho, J.R. Celski and Travis Jayner in taking on the powerful South Koreans, China, Canada and France in 45 laps of confusion, or as it's officially known, the 5000m relay final.

"There's going to be people back home watching and saying, `What the hell is going on?"' Ohno said. "Just watch the last four laps, that's all that really matters. It's kind of like a NBA game, just kind of show up in the fourth quarter."

In the 500m, it's all about the start and getting off the line quickly to grab the best position going into the first turn of the 4 1/2-lap race.

"If you get fourth off the line, and you're not a really small guy and there's not lot of room, chances are you might get stuck there the whole race," Ohno said. "That's why a lot of these guys have these explosive starts. They just blast off like a rocket."

Ohno will have to survive quarterfinal and semifinal rounds to have a chance of defending his Olympic title in the final. His South Korean rivals -- Sung Si-Bak, with whom he tangled in the 1500m; Lee Ho-Suk; and Kwak Yoon-Gy -- are all in other heats, so the earliest he could face them is the semis.

"He is the most experienced skater out there," Cho said about Ohno. "I wouldn't count him out. He's explosive. He's strong. He's seasoned. Apolo has got it all."

Cho's draw wasn't so lucky. His quarterfinal heat includes Charles Hamelin of Canada, ranked No. 1 in the world; and world-record holder Sung.

"It should be a very fun race," Cho said. "Those are the top two skaters who should contend for the gold medal."

The 500m calls for a mix of speed and composure.

"It requires a little bit of patience for every single second of the lap," Ohno said. "That fuse has to be shorter and shorter the more and more you advance for the rounds. There's very, very little space for passing."

South Korea has the most medals with five going into the finale, although China has a leading three gold. Surprisingly, South Korea has been more successful in long track speed skating, winning five medals, including three gold.

The South Koreans could have had more medals in short track, but their women's 3000m relay team was disqualified for impeding after finishing first.

In the men's 1500m, Sung and Lee Ho-suk, second and third at the time, wiped out in a crash on the final turn, leaving their teammate Lee Jung-Su with the gold and clearing the way for Ohno and Celski to claim the other medals.

South Korea is a strong contender in the women's 1000m, with Park Seung-Hi and Cho Ha-Ri competing in the quarterfinals Friday. They were on the 3000m relay that was disqualified Wednesday, when China was awarded the gold.

South Korea's Kim Min-Jung was leading when her left skate blade clicked with the right blade of China's Sun, causing the DQ.

"I want a rematch," said Kim, who won't be skating Friday. "We all went and watched the race again, and I still couldn't accept the result. I don't think I made any mistakes. I failed to give Korea five relay gold medals in a row. I'm sorry for that."

Chinese teammates Zhou Yang and Wang Meng, who already have two golds each, along with Sun Linlin are in the 1000m. Those three were part of the winning 3000m relay.

Katherine Reutter, the lone American who advanced, drew a tough quarterfinal against Sun, Cho and Canadian Tania Vicent. Reutter was on the U.S. team that received a bronze because of South Korea's DQ in the relay.

"I find the 1,000 almost as unpredictable as the 500 because it's just as fast but twice as long," she said. "It's a really good test of your endurance and your skills, and because of that, everyone can always surprise you."

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