The Dutch made amends for their 10th place in the Team Pursuit on home soil in Heerenveen three weeks ago, winning the event at the Calgary Olympic Oval on Saturday. Japan took silver and Norway clinched the bronze.
Coach Geert Kuiper chose not to take any risks with Olympic qualification at stake.
“We told each other to be smart because we couldn’t afford any mistakes,” he said. “That’s why the world record was never a goal for us. We just went out there for a winning time.”
Finishing in 3 minutes, 36.11 seconds, only 0.54 seconds short of the world record, the Dutch achieved just what they had aimed for: setting a winning time early.
Many other teams had difficulty staying on their feet. Russia, Canada and USA all crashed out of the race.
Japan’s Shota Nakamura, Shane Williamson and Seitaro Ichinohe managed to stay upright in their race against the USA, who crashed out in the final lap. Japan finished in 3:38.65 to take the silver medal.
Norway faced World Cup leader Korea in the final pair. Korea had trouble keeping a tight formation, whereas Norway’s Sverre Lunde Pedersen, Håvard Bøkko and Simen Spieler Nilsen clocked 3:38.94 in a solid race to take the bronze.
It was enough for Norway to grab the World Cup lead in the Men’s Team Pursuit, with Korea and the Netherlands in second and third positions.
Dutch coach Kuiper no longer worries about Olympic qualification for his men. The first six nations in the World Cup ranking after four events qualify directly, and the last two spots are given to the teams with the fastest times.
“I think we are certain [to qualify],” he said. “Even if we would end up outside the top six our 3:36 is better than other teams outside the top six would be able to skate.”