Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN)
Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) broke Sven Kramer’s (NED) 5000m world record in Salt Lake City (USA) last December, to set up a great Olympic rivalry for the long distances in men’s Speed Skating. On Sunday February 11th it’s showdown in the PyeongChang 5000m race.
31-year-old Kramer won the last two Olympic 5000m races in Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014), and took silver in Torino (2006). Bloemen will make his Olympic debut at age 31.
Bloemen grew up in the Netherlands, but decided to switch nationality after missing out on the Dutch team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He is eligible to represent Canada through his father Gerhard-Jan, who was born in New Brunswick. “It turned out to be the best decision I ever made”, he says.
Competing for Canada Bloemen broke Sven Kramer’s 10000m world record in Salt Lake City in 2015. It was not until this season did he meet Kramer in a face-to-face matchup at a World Cup. They even faced each other three times in a row, with Kramer winning on all three occasions: the 5000m in Heerenveen (NED), the 10000m in Stavanger (NOR) and the 5000m in Heerenveen.
Despite the losing streak, Bloemen’s confidence grew. “I’m happy to be closer and closer and in a season like this, these are not the races that really count. There’s only one race that really counts and that’s the Olympics,” he said after the race in Calgary.
One week later in Salt Lake City Bloemen crushed his Dutch nemesis’ 2007 Calgary world record of 6:03.32, finishing in 6:01.86. Kramer was not present in Salt Lake City, but Bloemen thought that he would have beaten him if he would have been there. “At the first three World Cups this season you saw that the momentum was on my side. I got closer every race and I think this would have been the final blow.”
On Sunday there’s nowhere to hide for either Kramer or Bloemen. And the two protagonists for gold also have to take other competitors into account. Bob de Vries (NED) surprisingly beat Kramer at the Dutch Olympic trials in December to qualify for PyeongChang 2018. The 2011 Dutch champion marathon skating on natural ice, will make his Olympic debut at age 33.
Patrick Beckert (GER)
Patrick Beckert (GER) is also chasing silverware in the 5000m. The German skater set the season’s second-best time finishing in 6:07.02 behind Bloemen in Salt Lake City. Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR), who won the last 5000m World Cup race before PyeongChang 2018 in Erfurt (GER), is another medal contender.