Reigning Olympic snowboarding silver medalist eyes gold in Beijing

유지호 / 2022-01-28 17:40:32
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▲ South Korean alpine snowboarder Lee Sang-ho trains during an open practice session at Welli Hilli Park in Hoengseong, some 140 kilometers east of Seoul, on Jan. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ South Korean alpine snowboarder Lee Sang-ho speaks at a press conference at Welli Hilli Park in Hoengseong, some 140 kilometers east of Seoul, on Jan. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ South Korean alpine snowboarder Lee Sang-ho trains during an open practice session at Welli Hilli Park in Hoengseong, some 140 kilometers east of Seoul, on Jan. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

▲ South Korean alpine snowboarder Lee Sang-ho trains during an open practice session at Welli Hilli Park in Hoengseong, some 140 kilometers east of Seoul, on Jan. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

snowboarder-Olympics

Reigning Olympic snowboarding silver medalist eyes gold in Beijing

HOENGSEONG, South Korea, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- By winning silver in the men's parallel giant slalom race in alpine snowboarding four years ago at PyeongChang 2018, Lee Sang-ho made history as the first Olympic medalist from South Korea in a skiing discipline.

With the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing just days away, Lee is confident he can do even better this time.

"My goal at this year's Olympics is to win the gold medal. And I believe I've already proven my credentials with my performances so far," Lee said Friday at a press conference during the national team media day event at Welli Hilli Park resort in Hoeongseong, some 140 kilometers east of Seoul.

"I am in great form, and I will just do what I've been doing all along," Lee added.

And what he has been doing is winning medal after medal during the International Ski Federation (FIS) Snowboard World Cup season.

Lee competed in five parallel giant slalom races and won three medals, including a gold in Russia in December. Lee also raced in two parallel slalom events and got a silver in Russia last month as well. Lee is the overall points leader with 434, 28 ahead of Stefan Baumeister of Germany, who ranked seventh in PyeongChang.

Asked to compare his current form to how he was feeling before PyeongChang, Lee said, "Then and again now, I feel like I am 100 percent. I am going to stick to my strengths and concentrate on making the most out of them."

Lee hit a bit of a rough patch after the 2018 Olympics, and underwent shoulder surgery in February 2020. Some two years later, he feels he's back on top again.

"It took me about six to seven months to complete my rehab, and then because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I couldn't go overseas to train," Lee said. "I also had some issues with my board. I wasn't happy with how last season played out.

"But I stuck it out knowing that I wasn't always going to do well and I would have my opportunity to bounce back," Lee continued. "I think that perseverance paid off."

Lee said offseason work on quality snow in Switzerland has been especially beneficial, along with an equipment change.

The distance between gates for the parallel giant slalom race in Beijing will be longer than that for PyeongChang, and Lee has switched to a board that's four centimeters longer.

"That may not seem like much, but it makes a huge difference in speed and turns," Lee said. "The new board will make it easier for me to get around those gates. I also needed to improve my conditioning to be able to ride the longer board, and training in high altitudes of Switzerland has paid dividends."

Lee has limited experience at the upcoming Olympic venue, Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, northwest of Beijing, but he said it won't prevent him from going after gold.

"I've competed there once. It's not that difficult of a course," Lee said. "That may leave the competition wide open and I am going to try not to worry about that."

Lee's parallel giant slalom race is scheduled for Feb. 8.

(END)

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