Sven Kramer defended his speedskating gold medal by winning the men's 5,000 meters competition Saturday at Adler Arena Skating Center in Sochi, Russia.
He joined silver-medalist Jan Blokhuijsen and bronze winner Jorrit Bergsma to make an all-Dutch podium.
After being a bit off the pace in the first half of the race, Kramer kicked it into another gear to post a winning time of six minutes, 10.76 seconds—4.95 seconds faster than his closest peer.
Below is an overview of the top 10 competitors:
|Rank||Pair||Competitor (Country)||Time (Min./Sec.)||Behind|
|1||10||Sven Kramer (Netherlands)||6:10.76||—|
|2||12||Jan Blokhuijsen (Netherlands)||6:15.71||+4.95|
|3||11||Jorrit Bergsma (Netherlands)||6:16.66||+5.90|
|4||12||Bart Swings (Belgium)||6:17.79||+7.03|
|5||11||Sverre Lunde Pedersen (Norway)||6:18.84||+8.08|
|6||7||Denis Yuskov (Russia)||6:19.51||+8.75|
|7||8||Ivan Skobrev (Russia)||6:19.83||+9.07|
|8||13||Patrick Beckert (Germany)||6:21.18||+10.42|
|9||6||Havard Bokko (Norway)||6:22.83||+12.07|
|10||6||Moritz Geisreiter (Germany)||6:24.79||+14.03|
Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted what we were all thinking:
Kramer captured the gold in this event at the 2010 Vancouver Games but was disqualified from the 10,000-meter competition that year for a lane-changing mix-up.
As frustrating as that had to be, the 27-year-old bounced back in a big way. Kramer left his partner, USA's Jonathan Kuck, in the dust by more than 20 seconds.
NBC's Willie Cornblatt noted that Kramer's time was an Olympic record:
Dutch royalty—King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Sports Minister Edith Schippers—turned out to witness Kramer's display. King Willem-Alexander talked about what it meant and the impact Kramer had on his country, per the Associated Press, via NBC:
"What can you say? We could never have hoped for such a great result," the king, himself a keen speed skater, said. "That Sven was able to deliver despite such pressure, it leaves me speechless. What can you say, such a great Olympic record."
The Chicago Tribune's Jared S. Hopkins added that his win was quite historic:
Sven Kramer set a new Olympic record time and earned his second straight Olympic Gold in the 5,000, 4 first time since 84\84— Jared S. Hopkins (@JaredSHopkins) February 8, 2014
For Russia, Denis Yuskov and reigning bronze-medalist Ivan Skobre both seemed destined for the podium. That is, until the final few pairings, where Jorrit Bergsma and Jan Blokhuijsen posted their times.
Jonathan Kuck was the USA's best chance to post a respectable finish, but running against the likes of Kramer showed the disparity, and he wound up in 19th place.
With two more competitions to go, Kramer will be looking to pull off a hat trick of gold medals. As impressive as the Dutch were in capturing all three medals in the 5,000 meters, it was even more captivating to witness how far ahead Kramer was of his peers.
As challenging as it may be to view this action live in the U.S., Kramer is worth the effort to tune in. Blink, or doze for a wink of sleep, and you just might miss him.