Short trackers to be reunited with controversial teammate following ban

SEOUL-- A pair of South Korean Olympic short track stars will be in for a potentially awkward reunion with a former teammate, as two-time gold medalist Shim Suk-hee returns this week after serving a ban for her off-ice trouble.

The women's national short track speed skating team will open training camp Wednesday, in preparation for the March 18-20 world championships in Montreal.

Shim was slapped with a two-month suspension in December last year after her expletive-laden text message exchanges with a coach during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics were leaked to media. In those threads, Shim mocked and derided two of her PyeongChang teammates, Choi Min-jeong and Kim A-lang, with some choice words. The ban kept Shim out of the Feb. 4-20 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Shim's ban ended on Feb. 21, one day after the Olympic closing ceremony. Shim, the 2014 and 2018 Olympic relay champion, informed the Korea Skating Union (KSU) last week that she would report to training camp. Choi decided late Monday that she would also participate, and Kim followed suit Tuesday.

Kim, however, will first undergo some rehab of her wonky knee and report to the national team a bit later.

Shim was first cut from the national team in October, when her text messages first became public. She filed for a court injunction to stop the ban, so that she could skate at the Olympics but lost that bid.

With Choi in particular, Shim even hinted at trying to crash into the skater on purpose. The two did get tangled up in the women's 1,000m final at PyeongChang 2018 and slammed into the wall, though Shim was cleared of any race-fixing charges by the KSU.

Without Shim, the women's team won silver in the 3,000m relay in Beijing. Choi captured gold in the 1,500m and silver in the 1,000m.

Kim and Shim competed together at the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, while Choi and Shim were teammates at the 2018 event.

In addition to preparing for the world championships, Shim will have to mend fences with Choi and Kim.

Soon after the controversial texts were leaked, Choi publicly called on Shim to stop calling her and texting her in a belated attempt to apologize and said Shim was only making the situation worse.

Source: Yonhap News Agency