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1-2 Finish in 1,000 Proves Dutch Can Sprint, Too

By Doug Ferguson
Associated Press
Sunday, February 15, 1998; 3:01 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan — The Dutch can sprint, too.

Ids Postma, whose previous two races were marred by mistakes, gave the Netherlands its first gold medal in a speedskating sprint by setting an Olympic record in the 1,000 meters Sunday.

Postma finished in 1 minute, 10.64 seconds and became the third skater to beat the 1:12.43 time that Dan Jansen posted in Lillehammer.

Jan Bos won the silver in 1:10.71. Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan, gold medalist in the 500, won the bronze with a 1:11.00.

Casey FitzRandolph of Verona, Wis., finished seventh in 1:11.64 while KC Boutiette of Tacoma, Wash., was eighth at 1:11.75. They were among 18 skaters who went faster than Jansen four years ago.

The Netherlands, long a power in the distance races, had not won any Olympic speedskating race shorter than 1,500 meters.

The surprise was that Postma pulled it off.

He slipped around the first turn in the first race of the 500 last week. Then he blew a chance to win the 1,500 when he missed a stride coming out of the final turn, settling for the silver.

This race was almost flawless, the only misstep coming early when he clipped a lane marker. But he sped through the final lap in 28.02 and pumped his arms twice, then jumped into his coach's arms when the time held up.

Canada, hoping to build on the women's dominance in the 500 the day before, was a disappointment.

World record-holder Jeremy Wotherspoon was on pace to top Postma until fading badly at the end. He finished in 1:11.39, a look of disbelief on his face when the digital clock flashed his time.

Wotherspoon finished sixth behind teammate Sylvain Bouchard. Jakko Jan Leeuwangh was fourth, 0.26 seconds shy of giving the Dutch a sweep.

A cheer rang out from the far end of the M-Wave when Kevin Overland, the bronze medalist in the 500, finished well back in the final heat.

That clinched a 1-2 finish for the Dutch, whose cheers were matched only by the Japanese enamored yet again by another strong showing by Shimizu.

It wasn't gold, like his heroic performance in the 500 last week, but Shimizu wasn't expected to break through against the Canadians.

The Dutch were hopeful for a gold, but it figured to come from the 22-year-old Bos, who last year became the first Dutch world sprint champion.

Skating in the next-to-last heat, he also was on pace to win the gold but finished seven-hundredths of a second behind his teammate.

The Americans have now gone six events without a medal, and could get shut out of a speedskating medal for only the second time since women's events were included at the 1960 games in Squaw Valley, Calif.

FitzRandolph used to place among the best in the world in the 1,000 until the new clap skates sent him into a tailspin.

Boutiette, who finished fifth in the 1,500, set a personal best in the 1,000 but it wasn't nearly good enough to match the Dutch.

Nathaniel Mills of Evanston, Ill., tied for 23rd with a 1:12.61, while Cory Carpenter of Brookfield, Wis., was 29th in 1:13.03.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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