Speedskating may not be a terribly popular sport in the United States in non-Olympic years, but it never fails to provide some of the most thrilling moments or entertaining events you'll see in the Winter Games.
Thus far in Sochi, that has held true. But what can we look forward to in men's long-track speedskating moving forward?
How about the sport's biggest star looking to cement a legacy as one of the finest Winter Olympians ever, a country that has dominated thus far looking to keep that run going or, you know, some pretty sweet, high-tech suits?
Let's break down all of the speedskating storylines still left to play out.
Shani Davis is trying to create history as the first speedskater to ever win the gold in one event—in this case, the 1,000-meter race—in three consecutive Olympics. Plus, he'd likely also like nothing more than to finally earn a gold in the 1,500-meter race, where he's been the silver medalist in consecutive Olympics.
Any medal, man, is something to be proud of. It’s just I’m spoiled and I have two of the best ones and that’s what I always aim for because there’s nothing that tops that feeling. Being on the top of that podium, having that medal go around your neck is just a tremendous feeling. That’s what I strive for and hopefully I can fulfill my hunger on Wednesday.
Still, you don't get to where Davis is without being fiercely competitive, so you can bet he'd love nothing more than to cap off an already-stellar Olympic career with two gold medals.
All eyes in the United States will be on Davis, who is likely the last great hope for the U.S. men to win a gold in the long-track competitions.
All eyes around the world will be on this long-track superstar as well.
Thus far in this Olympics, the Dutch have won eight medals. All eight of them have been in speedskating and six have come from the men.
Michel Mulder, Jan Smeekens and Ronald Mulder swept the long-track 500-meter race, which was particularly shocking since the Dutch generally are far more competitive at longer distances. Speaking of longer distances, Sven Kramer, Jan Blokhuijsen and Jorrit Bergsma swept the 5,000-meter race.
However, the Dutch aren't done.
Koen Verweij will be a major contender in the 1,000-meter race. Mark Tuitert and Verweij will have a major say in the 1,500-meter competition too. Kramer, Bergsma and Bob de Jong will be serious contenders in the 10,000-meter race. And who is going to bet against the Dutch in the team pursuits?
Nobody who wants to keep their money, that's for sure.
The "World's Fastest Suits"
Every athlete will take any legal and fair advantage they can get, both in preparation for and during an event, so it's a pretty big deal for the United States speedskating team that it is donning some truly cutting-edge suits for the Sochi Games.
Danielle Elliot of CBS News reported on the suits:
The Mach39 speed skating skins are the culmination of a two-year partnership between Under Armour and Lockheed Martin.
“One of the simplest things you can do to make apparel faster is to make sure it fits perfectly,” sports engineer Kim Blair, Ph.D., explained to CBS News. Blair was not involved in this project, but as worked with Olympic skiers and cyclists for more than a decade.
To get that perfect fit, Under Armour scientists visited the team's training facility in Salt Lake City and used a 3D image scanner to capture highly accurate digital measurements of the athletes from every angle.
Batman himself would be jealous of that technology.
So will it help Davis, for instance, race to the gold? It's hard to say, but you can bet he'll appreciate even the slightest assistance the new suit can provide.
Now, the only thing left to do is to keep the Dutch long-track skaters far, far away from these high-tech suits...
For a schedule of the remaining events, be sure to check out Sochi2014.com.
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