TURIN, Italy - A perfect race from start to finish for Apolo Anton Ohno.
Nobody was going to get in his way this time.
Ohno made this another Olympics to remember on the final night of short track speedskating Saturday, winning his second Olympic gold medal — and even crossing the line first for a change.
Unlike his disputed victory in Salt Lake City, Ohno didn’t have to wait for the judges to disqualify the skater in front of him.
Sensing victory was his in the 500-meter race, he threw up his arms and screamed, “Yesssss!” A look of pure joy and relief spread over his face.
“To lead from start to finish doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “For me, it was the perfect race.”
Well, this being short track, nothing is ever quite perfect.
Ohno got to the final on a disqualification, moving up when a Chinese skater was called for impeding.
“Both should have been disqualified or neither should have been disqualified,” said Feng Kai, the Chinese men’s coach. “My mood’s not good.”
Then, after two false starts by other skaters in the final, Ohno either got the ultimate start — or got away with one. Television replays showed him tilting forward ahead of everyone else, and getting to the crucial first turn with a clear lead.
The soul-patched American wasn’t done. In the final race of the evening, the 5,000 relay, he surged past the Italians on the next-to-last lap to grab the bronze medal — the first U.S. medal in that event since 1994.
Ohno’s eyes widened when he crossed the line in the 500, as if he couldn’t believe he had another gold. He leaped into the arms of a U.S. coach and grabbed a U.S. flag for the victory lap. American fans rocked the arena, just as they did when he thrilled them by winning gold and silver in Salt Lake City.
“So much emotion, so much passion, everything was moving through my body,” he said. “It’s crazy.”
Ahn Hyun-soo of South Korea was poised for a sweep of the individual gold medals, but he got caught up behind a couple of Canadian skaters, Francois-Louis Tremblay and Eric Bedard, and never got a chance to challenge Ohno.
Showing there were no hard feelings from four years ago, Ahn came over to shake Ohno’s hand in the middle of the rink. Ohno hugged all of the South Koreans during the medal ceremony and joined them for a group picture.
Tremblay held on for second, while Ahn got by Bedard to claim the bronze.
“I was waiting for (Ohno) to make a mistake, but he didn’t make one,” Tremblay said. “Everything he did was perfect.”
Check out the best images from the 2006 Winter Olympics.