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The gold went to the Chinese, who smiled and waved, each one holding a corner of their country's flag. Zhang appeared on the podium with a bandage and later needed stitches to close the cut on her chin.
"We are not exactly clear on what happened," Wang said. "In short track, there is a lot of physical contact. The Korean skater (Kim) was trying to make a pass when the contact happened. Regardless of the referee's decision, whether it was for or against us, we would have accepted it."
The Americans were thrilled to receive the bronze, the first medal won at these games by the women's short track team.
"All of us went in there thinking, `We are the strongest team, we are going to be on that podium,' and the way we did it was just a little different than we had expected," Alyson Dudek said. "That doesn't take away from our hard work and dedication."
The Americans' medal was their first in the event since 1994, when they also won bronze.
The Canadian team of Jessica Gregg, Kalyna Roberge, Marianne St-Gelais and Tania Vicent won the silver. St-Gelais earned another silver to go with the one she earned in the 500.
Several of the same skaters will be at it again Friday in the women's 1,000 quarterfinals. China's Sun, Wang and Zhou advanced, as did Koreans Park and Cho, along with Reutter and Canadians Roberge, Gregg and Vicent.
Earlier, Apolo Anton Ohno advanced through the 500 heats, setting up the American for his last shot at an individual gold medal.
Ohno won his 4 1/2-lap heat, finishing just in front of Canadian Olivier Jean. Ohno will return Friday, and must advance through the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds to skate for a medal in the 500, where he is the defending Olympic champion.
"I'm going to need more (speed) if I'm going to make the final," he said.
Also on the final night of short track competition, Ohno will lead the U.S. men in the 5,000 relay final against powerful South Korea, China, Canada and France.
Ohno has won a silver and a bronze at the Vancouver Games, making him the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian with seven career medals.
Also moving on in the 500 were American Simon Cho, South Koreans Sung Si-bak, Lee Ho-suk and Kwak Yoon-gy, Canadians Charles Hamelin and Francois-Louis Tremblay, China's Han Jialiang and Latvia's Haralds Silovs, who qualified for these games in both short- and long-track speedskating.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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