Dutch speedskaters clobber competition in Sochi


(Reuters)

Another day, another Dutch sweep in speedskating. Sunday went like so many other days had in the speedskating competition at the Sochi Games, with the podium awash in orange. From the Associated Press:

Jorien ter Mors led another Netherlands sweep at Adler Arena, beating favorite Ireen Wust in the women’s 1,500 meters Sunday and setting up a shot at becoming the first skater to win medals in both long and short track.

Competing in an early pairing, Ter Mors turned in a stunning time of 1 minute 53.51 seconds, an Olympic record and the second-fastest ever at sea level. The only skater to go quicker was Wust at the Dutch Olympic trials in December.

Wust settled for silver this time in 1:54.09, with the bronze going to Lotte van Beek in 1:54.54.

If a fourth medal had been available, the Dutch would’ve snatched it, too.

The three medals won Sunday brought the Dutch haul in speedskating to an astounding and record-breaking 17. The previous record for most speedskating medals in one Olympics was held by the East Germans in 1988 with 13. From Bleacher Report:

The 1,500 sweep broke East Germany’s previous record of 13 speedskating medals at a single Games, set at Calgary in 1988.

Until Sochi, Holland’s highest medal total at a Winter Olympics was 11 at Nagano in 1998, where they all came in long-track speedskating.

“They’re on fire right now,” U.S. Coach Ryan Shimabukuro told the Associated Press. “They’ve got all the momentum going in their direction.”

The depth of the Dutch skaters’ domination is unprecedented, according to the AP.

They have swept the medals in three of the first eight events, doing it again Sunday in the women’s 1,500 meters. Jorien ter Mors claimed the gold with the second-fastest time ever at sea level, giving her a shot at becoming the first skater to win Olympic medals in long and short track. Ireen Wust sounded disappointed with her silver, and Lotte van Beek claimed the bronze by knocking Leenstra out of the third spot in the very last pairing.

It was the first time in Olympic history that one country took the top four spots in a speedskating event.

Sixteen of the medals have come from long-track events, but the Dutch even got in on the short-track game.

Even Post columnist Sally Jenkins was impressed with how much fun the Dutch have been known to have at the Olympics.

Everybody knows the Dutch enjoy the Olympics better than anyone — eight years ago in Turin they had an ice rink in the middle of Holland House, and everyone would drink and then slide around on it. They travel with oompah bands. Plural. …

Maybe the Dutch are so lovable at the Winter Games because they remain great at this traditional discipline and treat it as if it still has excitement value, while so many other Olympic events tend ever more toward trickery, pushed by network heat-seekers and corporate sponsor overlords. At the same time they manage to do it with an esprit — they wear goofy assorted wigs in public and are generally uproarious over their national pastime, an exercise in monotonous lapping repetition.

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