Speedskating has been one of the most adrenaline-packed, high-octane events during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Skaters continue to get faster by the year, and that fact has become blatantly apparent this year, as multiple Olympic records were broken.
These athletes have been in top form during the early stages of the Winter Games, and competition has been fierce. Certain countries have dominated the events, while other countries were left with an empty feeling after missing out on the podium.
Let's take a closer look at the most compelling speedskating storylines that have surfaced so far in Sochi.
Olympic Records Continue to Fall
Speedskating at the 2014 Olympics started with a bang.
The Netherlands swept the men's 5,000 meter event, as Sven Kramer, Jan Blokhuijsen and Jorrit Bergsma took the gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively.
That was a fantastic feat in itself; however, the Dutch did not stop there. Kramer also set a new Olympic record with a blazing time of 6:10.76.
During an interview with Paul Myerberg of USA Today, Kramer expressed his delight with his performance and his outlook on future events:
I'm really happy with the 5k today. That gives me a little confidence for the 10k. The overall feeling is more like that I'm really confident. I've had a lot of pressure. The last couple 48 hours, it gets crazy. I knew I had to do it (Saturday). Overall, I just focused myself.
After the way that Kramer pushed himself to keep up his mind-blowing pace throughout the 5,000 meter event, it can be easily speculated that he has a great chance to continue his success when the 10,000 meter event rolls around.
Another record fell on Tuesday in the wake of the ladies' 500 meter event. South Korea's Sang Hwa Lee torched the field on her way to a new Olympic record time of 74.70.
She remained astonishingly efficient throughout her two races, as she posted a time of 37.42 in Race 1 and a time of 37.28 in Race 2. Both of those times were the fastest of any competitor in the event.
This victory marks Lee's second-straight 500 meter gold medal.
Netherlands Dominates Speedskating
The Netherlands continues to show why it produces the best skeedskaters in the world.
After the opening men's 5,000 meter event in which the Dutch swept the medals, it became quickly apparent that they would be the country to watch.
They have been.
The Dutch did not stop there, as they continued to rack up the speedskating medals.
Just one day later, during the ladies' 3,000 meter event, Netherlands skater Ireen Wust left the rest of the field in the dust, posting a time of 4:00.34—beating out second-place Martina Sablikova by 1.61 seconds—and earned another gold medal for the Dutch.
BREAKING: Ireen Wust of the Netherlands wins Olympic gold in women's 3,000-meter speedskating.— The Associated Press (@AP) February 9, 2014
The men were back at it on Monday, as once again the Netherlands swept the podium in the 500 meter event.
Led by twin brothers Michel and Ronald Mulder, who took the gold and bronze medals, respectively, the Dutch earned all three podium spots as fellow countryman Jan Smeekens took the silver medal.
Michael Mulder of the Netherlands reacts after winning Gold in men's 500m Speed Skating (EPA photo) pic.twitter.com/BVSv4GjeTo— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) February 11, 2014
The three Dutch skaters torched the field, posting times of 69.312, 69.324 and 69.46. They were three of the five skaters who managed to post sub-70 second scores.
The Netherlands earned one more medal on Tuesday, as Margot Boer finished third in the ladies' 500 meter event with a time of 75.48.
For those counting, that's a total of seven medals for the Dutch in speedskating events already. That's the definition of dominance.
United States Barely Misses Out on Podium
J.R. Celski, one of Team USA's top athletes in the speedskating competition, barely missed out on the men's 1,500 meter short track event on Monday.
The podium featured athletes from Canada, China and Russia—leaving Celski in fourth position.
He still posted a fine time of 2:15.624; however, that was not enough to earn him a medal, as Russia's Victor An earned the bronze medal with a time of 2:15.062—just .562 seconds faster than Celski.
After bumping into another competitor late in the race, Celski lost momentum. He explained the feeling during an interview with Philip Hersh of the Los Angeles Times:
It was hard to recover the speed I lost. It's about timing in short track. If I was in front, that probably wouldn't have happened. I got a little unlucky. But last time I benefited and won the bronze because of some falls. Sometimes you're on the good side of it, sometimes the bad.
It's a shame that such an unforeseen and unfortunate event took place, effectively bumping Celski out of medal contention. He was the United States' best chance of earning a gold medal in speedskating in the 2014 Olympics.
Hopefully, for the United States' sake, he finds better luck in future events.