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Alvarez wins first career World Cup medal

American takes 500-meter bronze in photo finish in Shanghai
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Charlies Hamelin (front), Vladimir Grigorev of Russia (center), Eduardo Alvarez of the United States (left), Freek Van Der Wart of Netherlands (top left) and Lee Ho-Suk of Korea (top right) compete in the men's 500-meter A final. -Getty Images

The 2013-14 World Cup Short Track speed skating season kicked off this week in Shanghai, China. This season's World Cup series is an important one as the top short track speed skaters in world continue their preparation ahead of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

A few things have changed for this season's World Cup Short Track series: there are a total of four events, each four days in length, with the individual distance (500 meters, 1,000 meters, 1,500 meters) being raced once. In the first two days of the event, skaters compete through the rounds of pre-preliminaries, preliminaries and heats for each of the distances. Finally, a new point-scoring system has also been implemented for the overall World Cup ranking. Saturday's racing saw the skaters competing in the finals of the 1,500 meters and 500 meters for both the ladies and men.

In the ladies 1,500 meters, Suk Hee Shim started her season where she finished the last one, in first place. The defending World Cup distance champion finished first, ahead of her teammate Alang Kim. Jorien Ter Mors of the Netherlands finished third, extremely close to the Korean duo. The event was marked by a penalty to Ha-Ri Cho and eight skaters at the start line, with Bernadett Heidum (Hungary) and Jessica Hewitt (Canada) being advanced from the semifinal round due to a penalty to another skater.

In the men's 1,500-meter event, it was another Korean win at the distance, with Jinkyu Noh finishing first. Canadian skater Charles Hamelin was a very close second, while third place went to Victor An of Russia. An sneaked onto the podium on the last lap, passing Da Woon Sin of Korea.

The other finals raced Saturday were the 500-meter events. In ladies, the Chinese fans were able to celebrate a top podium finish. However, it was not defending World Cup distance champion Meng Wang in first place but rather her teammate Kexin Fan. Seung-Hi Park of Korea finished in second place, while Marianne St-Gelais (Canada) barely edged out Sofia Prosvirnova (Russia) for third.

In the men's 500 meters, it was Hamelin, the defending World Cup distance champion, who managed to finish ahead of Russia's Vladimir Grigorev for first place. Third place had to be determined using the photo-finish camera, with Eduardo Alvarez (United States) edging out Ho-Suk Lee (Korea) and Freek Van Der Wart (Netherlands). This was Alvarez's career first World Cup podium finish.

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