Yun Sungbin claims historic 1st skeleton gold for South Korea

Commanding win gives host country 1st sliding medal of any kind

Yun Sungbin claims historic 1st skeleton gold for South Korea
Skeleton athlete Yun Sungbin's gold medal is South Korea's first sliding medal of any kind. © Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

By CBC Sports

Yun Sungbin left no doubt. It's his track. It's his gold medal.

The most decisive Olympic skeleton champion ever is a 23-year-old who had no idea what he was doing on a sled a few years ago and now stands taller than anyone else in the sport.

Yun won in commanding fashion at the Pyeongchang Games on Friday, his four-run time of 3 minutes, 20.55 seconds —a track record — easily coming in 1.63 seconds ahead of OAR silver medallist Nikita Tregubov. Great Britain's Dom Parsons won bronze at 3:22.20.

Most skeleton races are decided by tenths or hundreths of a second, but Yun was dominant from start to finish — the fastest slider, in every way, in every heat.

Latvia's Martins Dukurs, who was in second after three runs, missed the podium by .11. His brother Tomass placed fifth.

Kevin Boyer, of Sherwood Park, Alta., was the only Canadian to move on to the 20-man final. He placed 17th with a combined time of 3:35.40.

The other two Canadian sliders — Dave Greszczyszyn of Brampton, Ont., and Calgary's Barrett Martineau — did not advance after their combined three-run times left them in 21st and 25th, respectively.

Ringing in the new year

He stepped onto the award podium shortly after finishing, arms skyward as thousands of his fellow South Koreans roared. They showed up early on a bright morning in the Taebaek Mountains, fully expecting to see the sort of dominance he himself envisioned when taking thousands of training runs on the track that was built for these Olympics, the track he knows better than anyone else in sliding.

"Yun! Sung! Bin!" they chanted, over and over. "Yun! Sung! Bin!"

Yun delivered.

Happy New Year, indeed. On a national holiday in Korea — the start of a lunar new year — Yun became a national hero. He is the reigning World Cup overall champion, is now the Olympic champion and his career is only just starting.

"If you see the Korean guy, he has the best material," Spain's Ander Mirambell said. "He will win this easy."

It was the biggest victory margin in Olympic skeleton, topping 1948 when Italy's Nino Bibbia topped Jack Heaton of the U.S. by 1.4 seconds in a six-heat race.

For the U.S., 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Matt Antoine was 11th and three-time Olympian John Daly was 16th.