Sochi / Russia

The Dutch Speed Skating power house sweeps the podium for the fourth time at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Jorrit Bergsma (NED) won the men’s 10,000m in an Olympic record time of 12:44.45 which is also a new track record and personal best time. The favourite Sven Kramer finished in second and 37 year old Bob de Jong got the bronze medal.

The Netherlands currently has six gold medals in total. With a total of 101 medals in speed skating, only Norway (103 in cross country skiing) and Austria (110 in alpine skiing) have more medals in a single sport.

Sven Kramer had a point to prove following the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Despite the fact he had the fastest time he was disqualified for a wrong lane change, however Bergsma was the fastest man today. Kramer got silver in 12:49.02. 2010 Olympic bronze medallist Bob de Jong defended his title by finishing in 13:07.19. De Jong is the oldest male speed skater to win a medal in 86 years thus became the first man in speed skating to win at least one medal at four different Olympic Winter Games. 2010 Olympic champion Seung-Hoon Lee (KOR) finished in fourth place, 13:11.68.

Patrick Meek (USA) won the first pair in 13:28.72, he had a faster second half of his race then the first half and managed to keep a steady pace in each half and but was exhausted afterwards.  In the next pair Shane Dobbin (NZL) beat Moritz Geisreiter (GER) who could stay close until 7000m, but then Geisreiter’s laps went up quicker than Dobbin, who had a nice series of 10 laps, every lap being 0.1 slower than the previous one. He took the lead, 13:16.42, Geisreiter finished in 13:20.26.  The Russian skater Yevgenij Seryayev and his young American pair mate Emery Lehman had a very close race. Seryayev skated away and widened the gap to four seconds, but in the second half of the race, Seryayev slowed down and Lehman kept a steady pace of low 32 laps. At 8800m, Lehman overtook the Russian, but he did not want to lose and threw in three crescendo laps to the end. When the bell rang with one lap to go, they were exactly equal, and in the final sprint the Russian took his pair and both had a similar time as Meek. After the first break, Patrick Beckert (GER) took the lead with a race that got faster and faster. The next race saw the first Dutch medal contender Bob de Jong take to the ice. Although he tried to better his bronze medal, he did not manage to find the right rhythm and relaxation and realized he was not going to win despite overtaking his pair mate Alexej Baumgärtner (GER) and finished in 13:07.19.

Bart Swings (BEL) was paired with Jorrit Bergsma. Bergsma is the reigning world champion in this distance and held the track record with 12:57.69. Swings held the national record of 13:08.08 and aimed for 13:06, which could bring him past De Jong. In the first 2000m, looking for rhythm and steady state, both skaters had about the same time as De Jong, but then they continued each in his own tempo. After three laps from the start (1200m) Swings had a long row of 14 laps between 30.9 and 31.2. In those last two laps he was ahead of De Jong. Bergsma had five laps just above 30.5, then a row of laps just under 30.5 and after 6800m the laps of Swings started to slow down, after 3000m he had his first 32.0 lap and it was the last passing time that was faster than De Jong. Then he finished with 33.0 laps. His everything-or-nothing attempt finished in 13:13.99, but all attention was already for Bergsma, who had after 6400m laps from 30.1 down to 29.8, and he kept skating well with 29s until he passed the finish beating the Olympic record by 11 seconds. Finally Kramer skated with Lee, and both skaters started fast. Sven opened faster than anyone else, gaining one second on Bergsma in the first lap, and Lee was able to keep up. For a couple of laps, Lee took the lead with laps of 30.3. After 2000m, they had gained almost 3 seconds on Bergsma. Then Lee’s pace went into the high 30 laps, while Kramer continued with the low 30s. After 3000m, Kramer was leading and kept an almost 4 seconds advantage over Bergsma until 6400m. At that point, Bergsma’s lap had gone down, but Kramer lacked power. He slowed down to laps around 30.7 and in the final two laps the laps were 31.5 and 31.9. 12:49.03. Lee’s intermediate times were faster than De Jong’s, but Lee slowed down into the 32s from 8000m and he finished with three 33 laps, which left him without a medal: 13:11.68.

Seung-Hoon Lee, fourth: “If I would have chosen the right strategy for this race, I would have won because I got good results during training. I needed to pay more attention to the last 5000m. I was too slow in the second half and I was too fast in the first 5000m. That made me slow down. I was determined to win a medal, but the Dutch team is very strong. I’m not sorry I didn’t win a medal. I’m still a little bit upset, but not too down. I want to be determined for the team pursuit because the team has a good chance for that.”

Bergsma and De Jong’s coach Jillert Anema: “There are laws in skating that you can’t sin against. You need to start easy, skate on your heartbeat, take that relaxation and then you can find the speed. Bergsma did so, De Jong couldn’t do it.”

Bob de Jong, bronze: “I skated much too short. I adapted my technique based on my analysis of the 5 km. Then I saw that it was better not to glide too long. But this adaption was not right for today. In training I could skate 10 laps of 30.0 but not now. In a way it is bad that you can be on the podium with a time like this. Of course I am happy with another medal in my collection. It feels better now than in Vancouver, when I also thought I lost a medal but won it because of Kramer’s disqualification.”

Sven Kramer, silver: “I am disappointed, but I saw this coming, I had too much trouble with pain. The first week and a half here I felt good, but lately I got a back problem, which is not an excuse but a fact. I am not taking away anything from the awesome achievement of Jorrit. I’m just not good enough, with pain in my back and left leg I didn’t have the power to give something extra. Maybe I started too fast, just like Jorrit did in the 5000, but from the start I felt my body was not good. Four years ago it was a harder blow, because then I was the strongest. Now I was beaten on value. The level is gigantic.”

Jorrit Bergsma, gold: “I managed to start relaxed and find the right movement and steady state. From there I could speed it up. I knew with a good race I would win here. My coach calculated that 12:45 was what I could do here if I did everything right. And he also calculated that the maximum that Sven could do was 12:47. At least we have shown that the 10k can bring so much suspense. I also do not expect that this is the last Olympic 10,000m medal: Swings is coming and with him a new generation. About Sven: we have respect for each other, but I come here for me, not a happy end in the Sven-story.”

Preview ladies 5000m
In tomorrow’s 5000m it seems that the main favourite is reigning Olympic Champion Martina Sábliková (CZE). The feather-weight Czech won silver in the 3000m behind Ireen Wüst and they are paired together in the 7th of 8 pairs. Although Wüst competes for a medal and is strong, she was not the best woman in the qualification races as she ranked third. Carien Kleibeuker (NED) (pair 5) and Yvonne Nauta (NED) edged her and these two ladies have no other races in these Olympics. Another former champion, Claudia Pechstein (GER) announced that she is not in her best shape and will skate with Nauta in the final pair. Olga Graf (RUS) will also try to get another medal after her bronze in the 3000m.