By Special Reporting Team
PYEONGCHANG/GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- Competing in adjacent rinks, two South Korean skaters experienced starkly contrasting fates Tuesday night at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
At Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, just east of PyeongChang, short track speed skater Choi Min-jeong looked to have finished in second place, behind Arianna Fontana of Italy, in the women's 500-meter final.
South Korean speed skater Kim Min-seok celebrates winning the bronze medal in the men's 1,500 meters at Gangneung Oval, located in Gangneung, some 240 kilometers east of Seoul, during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Feb. 13, 2018. (Yonhap)
A few minutes' walk away, at Gangneung Oval, speed skater Kim Min-seok had already completed his race and was sitting nervously in third place, with a handful of skaters still left who could overtake the unheralded South Korean.
Compared to Choi, a two-time world overall champion and one of the best-known winter sports athletes in South Korea, Kim was almost an afterthought.
Then it all changed in a matter of minutes.
Choi was penalized for impeding Kim Boutin of Canada late in the race. Just when Choi thought she'd won her first Olympic medal, it was snatched away from her.
Over at the long track, Kim somehow remained in third place with the final pairing of Joey Mantia and Sverre Lunde Pedersen on deck. And with better track records than Kim, those two were expected to finish inside the top three and push Kim out of podium position.
Instead, Mantia only ended in eighth place and Pedersen was further back in ninth. Kim's time of 1:44.93 stood for an improbable bronze, which became South Korea's second medal of these Olympic Games.
Kim's is also the first medal by an Asian skater in the men's 1,500m in Olympic history. The event has long been dominated by Europeans, with some Canadians and Americans also having won a few medals of late.
South Korean short track speed skater Choi Min-jeong leaves the ice at Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung after getting penalized in the women's 500-meter final during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Feb. 13, 2018. (Yonhap)
There was a smaller bit of history made for South Korea at Olympics Sliding Centre in PyeongChang. German-born South Korean luger Aileen Christina Frisch took eighth place in the women's singles luge competition, the best finish by a South Korean at an Olympic luge competition.
She had a combined time of 3:06.400 after four runs.
Frisch was in seventh place after her first two runs on Monday, with a combined time of 1:32.806. She maintained her position after the third run, but dropped one spot after her final run.
Another South Korean luger, Sung Eun-ryung, finished 18th at 3:08.250.
The nation's cross-county skiers weren't nearly as successful, as they failed to get past the qualification round in the men's and women's sprint classic competitions.
Kim Magnus, one of South Korea's top prospects, finished 49th in the men's race, while Ju Hye-ri came in second-to-last, 67th, in the women's sprint classic. They needed to finish inside the top 30 to reach the next stage.
German-born South Korean luger Aileen Christina Frisch holds the South Korean national flag, taegeukgi, after finishing eighth in the women's singles at Olympic Sliding Centre in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 13, 2018. (Yonhap)