Apolo Anton Ohno threw up his arms in a what-can-I-do gesture and smiled.
The American short track speedskater had just been disqualified in the 500 meters, but he wasn't leaving the Vancouver Olympics empty-handed Friday night.
Ohno returned later and anchored the United States to a bronze-medal finish in the chaotic 5,000 relay, giving him his eighth career medal.
It was Ohno's third medal of these games, to go with a silver and another bronze that made him America's most decorated Winter Olympian. He already has the most short track medals of any skater.
The 45-lap relay ended a wild final night of short track, marked by crashes, disqualifications and capricious skating.
It also might have been the final Olympic race of Ohno's stellar career. He is contemplating retirement, although U.S. national coach Jimmy Jang is hoping to convince the 27-year-old skater from Seattle to compete in a fourth Olympics in 2014.
“He's a very excellent athlete, exceptional in every way,” China's Han Jialiang said.
Ohno skated the final two laps of the U.S. relay, sticking out his left skate at the finish before getting edged by South Korea's Kwak Yoon-gy. Canada won the gold and South Korea earned the silver.
Ohno slapped hands and exchanged hugs with teammates J.R. Celski, Travis Jayner and Jordan Malone. He waved to the crowd before skating to the boards and hugging an ecstatic Jang, a longtime friend.
Ohno then skated over to congratulate the Canadians, nearly stepping on their Maple Leaf flag. He also shook hands with his South Korean rivals.
On the podium, a roar went up as Ohno's name was announced and the medal slipped over his slicked-back hair. He held up his bronze in one hand and waved his bouquet in the other.
The medal salvaged the night for Ohno after he was disqualified in the 500, apparently for causing a crash in the final turn. He crossed the finish line second behind Canada's Charles Hamelin, whose momentum spun him into the middle of the ice as the race ended.
Ohno was in last place when he tried to go inside of Canadian Francois-Louis Tremblay to move up on the final turn. The American's right leg appeared to hit Tremblay and he went crashing into the padding.
South Korea's Sung Si-bak also went down, although it appeared he lost his balance.
After several minutes of discussion, during which Ohno skated calmly around the ice, the referees DQ'd him. He smiled, fully aware of the unpredictable nature of his sport.
Ohno managed to get past crashes in both his previous heats to advance to the 500 final, which he won four years ago in Turin.
Hamelin won the gold. Sung took silver and Tremblay got bronze.
Photo: The crash near the end of the men's 500. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.