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China off to good start, S. Korea leaps atop at Asiad
   2017-02-20 20:46:10    Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhang Shuai

China's Man Dandan poses with the gold medal during the awarding ceremony for women's 1.4km individual sprint classical cross country skiing at the 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, Feb. 20, 2017. Man Dandan claimed the title of the event with 3 munites 48.29 seconds to gain the first gold medal for China in this winter games. [Photo: Xinhua/Liao Yujie]

China was off to a good start on Monday at the Asian Winter Games with early victories in snowboard and speed skating, before South Korea topped the medal tally after day-1 competition with a sweep of five gold medals.

Cross-country skier Man Dandan grabbed China's first gold medal at the Games. The 28-year-old won the women's 1.4km individual spring classical with a time of three minutes, 48.29 seconds.

"I didn't think too much, but just focused on the Games. As a veteran, I want to set up a good example for my young teammates by doing my best regardless of the results," she said.

Yelena Kolomina from Kazakhstan took the silver and Ju Hye Ri from South Korea got the bronze. Australia's Casey Wright finished the third in the final round but did not get a medal as a guest athlete.

China also took a silver in the men's cross-country event while Kim Magnus of South Korea won the gold.

Mikko Olavi Virtanen, head coach of the Chinese cross-country skiing team, said that the Chinese team has a huge potential. "We have a quite young team. We still have five more years to the Beijing Winter Olympics. I hope we can keep up this good work for a long term," he said.

Shortly after Man's victory, China won its second gold through Zang Ruixin in the women's snowboard slalom. The 23-year-old clocked 1:23.62 to win the title after two runs. She took a silver of the giant slalom snowboard on Sunday, losing to Yanetani.

China's first ever Olympic speed skating champion Zhang Hong missed the gold in her signature event of the women's 1000m with a third finish in 1:15.75, citing bad form. Japan's sprint speed skating star Nao Kodaira showed her strength in longer distance as she won the event in 1:15.19. Long distance specialist Miho Takagi came second, not long after she won a gold in the 3,000m.

China won an unexpected gold medal in the men's speed skating with Gao Tingyu clinching the men's 500m title in 34.69.

South Korea's gold medal rush on the opening day started by Lee Sang-ho in the men's slalom. The 2018 Winter Olympics host topped the medal table with six golds, while Japan was second and China third, both with three golds.

South Korea dominated the short track speed skating on Monday as seven-time world champion Choi Min-jeong won the women's 1,500m and Park Se-yeong took top honors in the men's 1,500m.

Park won the men's event with a time of 2:34.056 while China's Han Tianyu was second in 2:34.256. Lee Jung-su, also of South Korea, was third in 2:34.356.

South Korea also won gold medals in the men's 5,000m speed skating and cross-country skiing men's 1.4 km sprint classic.

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