‘Iron Man’ Yun Sungbin Wins Olympic Gold, South Korea’s First in Skeleton

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Yun Sungbin has won the gold medal in the men's skeleton competition at the Pyeongchang Olympics, South Korea's first in the sport.

South Korea's "Iron Man" clocked a time of 50.02 in the fourth heat for a cumulative time of 3:20.55.  The 23-year-old beat silver medal winner Nikita Tregubov, one of the Olympic Athletes from Russia, by a margin of 1.63 seconds.

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. 

Dom Parsons slid into third for the bronze, Great Britain's first medal of the 2018 Winter Games.

It was not a banner start for the U.S., and the Americans weren't able to rally to reach the medal mix. Matt Antoine, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, entered the fourth heat ranked 9th before finishing 11th. 

Team USA's John Daly, a three-time Olympian, fell out of medal contention after the third heat to finish 16th.

Sungbin has spent thousands of hours at the sliding track his nation built for these Pyeongchang Olympics, studying every nuance and scrutinizing every inch.

He knows it better than anyone alive.

And the payoff for that work came Friday when Sungbin claimed first place in the men's skeleton, sending the home crowd into raptures.  On a national holiday in Korea — the start of a lunar new year — Yun became a national hero.

South Korea has never been close to an Olympic medal in any sliding sport, and Yun — the one his nation identified as the slider with the most potential of becoming a star at these games — changed all that.

Yun's home-ice advantage is an important part of this Olympic story, though it's not why he's winning. He wins everywhere. He toyed with the World Cup circuit this season, winning five times and finishing second in his other two starts. He won the overall season points total even after skipping the final race to prep for Pyeongchang.

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.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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