As the Olympics turn the leaf to Day 4, speedskating is one of the many sports on the docket.
The speedskating schedule is lighter than it was on Day 3 of competition, which featured domination from the Netherlands. Included in the results was a podium sweep from the Dutch in the men’s 500-meter long-track race by Michel Mulder (gold), Jan Smeekens (silver) and Ronald Mulder (bronze).
It was also a disappointing Day 3 from American J.R. Celski, who finished just off the podium in fourth place in the men’s 1,500-meter short-track race. Charles Hamelin of Canada won the gold.
It’s safe to say he was fired up:
With Day 3 in the books and a number of medals awarded, it’s time for the speedskating world to turn its focus to a Day 4 schedule that only features one discipline, the ladies’ 500-meter long-track race.
Here is that schedule with the broadcast information:
Ladies’ 500-meter long-track race one of two
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 11
Time: 7:45 a.m. ET, 4:45 p.m. Sochi time and 12:45 p.m. GMT
TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Network at 7:45 a.m. ET, NBC at midnight (rebroadcast) and BBC at 12:45 p.m. GMT
Ladies’ 500-meter long-track race two of two
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 11
Time: 8:45 a.m. ET, 5:45 p.m. Sochi time and 1:45 p.m. GMT
TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Network at 8:45 a.m. ET, NBC at midnight (rebroadcast) and BBC at 1:45 p.m. GMT
So, who will take home the medals in speedskating’s lone event on Day 4? Let’s dig into some predictions.
Ladies’ 500-meter long-track medal predictions
Lee Sang-hwa, South Korea: gold
Heather Richardson, United States: silver
Yu Jing, China: bronze
Richardson is the best hope for a medal from the American perspective, although her chances may be better in the 1,000-meter long-track race than the 500-meter one.
The former inline skater who switched to long-track will look to win the first gold for the United States in this discipline since Bonnie Blair did so in 1994. Richardson recently became the first American woman to win the world sprint crown since 2005, so she knows something about recapturing glory for Uncle Sam.
Richardson participated in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, but she has higher goals this time around, as she told John Powers of The Boston Globe:
In Vancouver I was just happy to be there. Here, I actually want to put in some solid races, just go out, relax, and do my best, hopefully be on the podium. My goal is to be on the podium in at least one of my three individual events.
While Richardson could very well end up on the podium, the best skater in the world in the 500-meter long-track and heavy gold-medal favorite is Lee from South Korea.
Lee won the gold in Vancouver and followed that up by finishing first in the overall World Cup standings for the 500-meters in the 2012-13 season and winning the World Single Distance Championships that year as well.
Lee has already broken her own record multiple times in the 2013-14 World Cup season and has finished first or second in the overall World Cup standings every year in the 500-meters since 2011.
While many would be satisfied with an Olympic gold from 2010, NBCOlympics.com pointed out that she is ready for more gold based on what she said in an interview with local media:
I don't think Vancouver was my golden age. I think my golden age will be the Sochi Winter Olympics. My body feels it and I hope it will turn out that way.
I don't want to be remembered as a Vancouver heroine. So many people were telling me I'd done enough because I'd won an Olympics gold, but that only made me skate even harder.
Perhaps the biggest threat to Lee is Yu from China.
Yu did not win a World Cup medal in the 2013-14 campaign, but she was the overall women’s champion for the 2014 World Sprint Championships. That event combines finishes from the 500-meters and the 1,000-meters, so she is a versatile skater looking for a medal in Sochi.
Note: Accomplishments and bio information courtesy of NBCOlympics.com.
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