SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Chinese short track speed skater Zhou Yang remained on course to defend her 1,500 meters Olympic title when she qualified safely for Saturday's final at the Sochi Winter Games.
The 22-year-old, who also won a relay gold medal at the last Olympics in Vancouver, advanced without any problems when she won the first of the three semi-finals at the Iceberg Skating Palace.
Her countrywoman Li Jianrou, who won the 500m gold medal on Thursday, also advanced by winning the third semi after Italy's Arianna Fontanna, who earned silver in the 500m, took out the second.
Dutch skater Jorien ter Mors and the South Korean pair of Shim Suk-hee and Kim Alang also qualified automatically by finishing second in the three semis.
American Emily Scott advanced after she was knocked over in her semi-final and deemed not to have had a fair chance of qualifying, meaning there will be seven skaters in a congested final.
(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Peter Rutherford)