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 In 1994, Koss won three events in world record time.
 Speedskating section


Koss Tests Clap Skates, for the Record

Friday, February 20, 1998; Page C10

Speedskaters training on the Nagano rink on Thursday might have wondered if Johann Olav Koss was making a comeback.

They soon realized there were no men's races left in the Olympic program but still wondered what the great Norwegian was doing on the ice and why he was wearing a Belgian skin suit.

Koss, who won three gold medals at Lillehammer four years ago, was trying the new clap skates and, since he had no training gear, he turned to Bart Veldkamp.

The Dutch-born Veldkamp, who opted for the Belgian nationality two years ago to qualify for major competitions more easily, was happy to oblige.

Koss, who retired after his brilliant runs before his home fans at the 1994 Olympics, now lives in Australia, where he attends medical school. He came to Nagano as a television commentator.

Seeing Dutchman Gianni Romme use the new clap skates to slash more than 15 seconds off the 10,000-meter world record he had set in winning in Lillehammer made Koss curious.

"They're fun," Koss said of the skates, which allow the heel to lift off the blade while taking a stride.

"I still love to skate but I'm not coming back," he said with a smile. "My legs hurt a bit. I didn't know the clap skates made such a difference in the curves. Maybe I'll get myself a pair."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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