Olympics: South Korean sliders want gold on merit at Pyeongchang

South Korea's pilot Won and Seo come to a halt after a run during the men's two-man bobsleigh competition at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

(Reuters) – South Korean bobsleigh duo Won Yun-jong and Seo Young-woo have played down the importance of home ice at next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, saying they are “good enough” to win gold for their country on their own merits.

Sliders from host nations have enjoyed a competitive edge in recent Winter Games as they have the opportunity to train on the Olympic track more often than their rivals and are familiar with every twist and turn on the course.

Won, the pilot, and Seo, his brakeman, are one of the main medal hopes for the host nation in the sliding events, which will be held at Pyeongchang’s Alpensia Sliding Centre.

“The ultimate goal for athletes is to win an Olympic gold medal,” Won was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency. “We want the people to think that we won the medal because we were good enough to do so, not just because we were racing at home.”

The duo won the World Cup series last year but have struggled this season, failing to record a victory and finishing outside the top 10 in two World Cup stops.

Yun Sung-bin, who is South Korea’s sole medal hope in the men’s skeleton, wants to let his results do the talking next season as he builds up to Pyeongchang.

During the eight World Cup events of the 2016-17 season, Yun won once and finished as runner-up three times, including the season finale at Alpensia earlier this month, where he lost to Latvia’s Martins Dukurs by 0.01 seconds.

“I didn’t think I’d get beat at the time, but I think a tiny mistake made the difference,” Yun said. “If I continue to work harder, I should post better results. I’ll let my times do the talking next season.”

The last two men’s Olympic skeleton champions have come from the host nations.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru)