Posted: Feb 27, 12:50p ET | Updated: Mar 4, 7:55p ET

Did Ohno deserve to get disqualified in 500m?

U.S. star blasts Canadian ref's decision that cost him silver; Canadian officials scoff

U.S. short track star Apolo Ohno won his record eighth Olympic medal, the most of any American winter athlete, with a bronze in the 5,000m relay Friday night. But controversy struck earlier in the evening when he was disqualified in the final of the 500m, apparently for causing a crash in the final turn.

Ohno crossed the finish line second behind Canada's Charles Hamelin, whose momentum spun him into the middle of the ice as the race ended.

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Ohno was in last place when he tried to go inside of Canadian Francois-Louis Tremblay to move up on the final turn. The American's right leg appeared to hit Tremblay and he crashed into the padding.

South Korea's Sung Si-bak also went down, although it appeared he lost his balance.

"There was no space between the skaters," Ohno said. "There was a fast pace from the beginning. I had so much speed that I put my hand up to not run into the Canadian before me. I guess the judge saw something I didn't."

Right after the race, Ohno told NBC's Cris Collinsworth, "I don't know why they called me for the disqualification. ... My hand is up basically just to prevent myself from running into the back of him, so it's more of a cushion. ... But that's the head Canadian ref out there, and we're on Canadian soil."

When asked if he really did believe referee Michel Verreault's Canadian background factored into his decision, Ohno said, "I think so, absolutely. But in short track, everything is so subjective, so I just have to be faster." 

Canadian officials dismissed Ohno's comments.

"It's the type of comment that we have once in a while, but I can tell you it's never the case usually, (referee) Michel (Verreault) is more severe against Canadians, and reviewing the video, there was a DQ," said Canadian team leader Yves Hamelin to the Globe and Mail.

Ohno managed to get past crashes in both his previous heats to advance to the 500 final, which he won four years ago in Turin. Hamelin won the gold. Sung took silver and Tremblay got bronze.

Ohno said he didn't deserve to be disqualified, "I thought I had eight," he said, referring to medals.

He did before the night was done. Coming back for the relay, he teamed with J.R. Celski, Travis Jayner and Jordan Malone to linger behind the three front-runners through most of the 45-lap race, then blew past a Chinese skater who went wide off the final turn to get the bronze. 


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