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Cho wins 500, joins Reutter as world short track leader

March 12, 2011 | 12:47 pm

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For the first time in 35 years, the United States has the overall leaders going into the final day of the World Short Track Speedskating Championship.

Simon Cho of Laurel, Md., moved into the men's lead by winning the 500 meters Saturday in Sheffield, England.  At 19, in his first world championships, Cho became the youngest U.S. skater to win a world gold medal.

"I'm surprised, excited, enthusiatic, exhausted and proud to represent the United States,'' Cho said via telephone as he rode back from the rink to the team hotel.

Katherine Reutter of Champaign, Ill., maintained her lead in the overall standings after failing to make the 500-meter final by a couple inches Saturday.

Reutter, who won the 1,500 on Friday, was in second for four of the five laps in the semifinal before China's Li Jianrou beat her to the finish by seven thousandths of a second.  Only the top two advanced.

Li finished last in the final, won by Fax Kexin of China.

Cho3 Cho, a native of South Korea who came to the United States at 4, made the most of a reinstatement after a fall in an earlier round.  Advanced into the quarterfinals when a Polish skater was disqualified for fouling him, Cho took the lead three laps into the final and held off Jean Olivier of Canada by .122 seconds.

"I was worried after the fall because the 500 is a sprint, and I had the (worst) starting position in the next race,'' he said.  ``That was a huge obstacle I was able to overcome.''

Cho managed a second place in the quarters, then won his semifinal.

Cho, who considers the 500 his best distance, is trying to become only the third U.S. man ever to take the overall title. Apolo Anton Ohno won it in 2008 and Alan Rattray won in 1976.

Cho had finished fifth in the 1,500 Friday and leads Noh Jinkyu of South Korea 39-34.  Skaters score points only by making a final.

For the second year in a row, Reutter was given sixth place in the 500 final results.  That was based on her first-place finishes in the preliminaries and heats and second in the quarterfinals.

Under the extraordinarily complicated scoring system to determine the overall winner, Reutter leads Fan because she had a better time at 1,500.

The competition ends Sunday with the 1,000 and Super 3,000.

Photos: (Top) This photo of the finish shows the tiny margin that kept Katherine Reutter (left) from making the 500-meter final at the World Short Track Championships. Credit: International Skating Union / Longines. (Below) Simon Cho celebrates his win in the 500. Credit: Leon Neal / Getty Images.

For the record: An earlier version of this post said that the United States has the overall leaders going into the final day of the World Short Track Speedskating Championship for the first time in history. It's the first time in 35 years.

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