The 2014 Winter Olympics have made two things abundantly clear: Germany is incredible at luge with four gold medals, and the Netherlands is home to the best speedskaters in the world.
There have been six speedskating events through Day 6, one on each day, and 12 of the 18 medals have gone to the Dutch. We break down all the medal results by country and applaud the high achievements of one of the Low Countries.
The Netherlands has won four gold medals and 12 total at the Sochi Games so far; all of those have come in speedskating.
The nation swept the medals in the men's 5,000 meters as Sven Kramer, Jan Blokhuijsen and Jorrit Bergsma placed in order. Another sea of orange swept the 500-meter medals when Michel Mulder seized gold, while his identical twin brother Ronald got bronze. Johannes Smeekens finished between them.
The men narrowly missed a third sweep in the 1,000 meters behind Stefan Groothuis' gold and Michel Mulder's bronze.
On the ladies' side, Ireen Wust added another gold in the ladies' 3,000 meters. She also came up with silver in the 1,000-meter race, and Margot Boer followed right behind in third. Boer managed another bronze in the 500 meters, and the Dutch have an even dozen medals thanks entirely to their speedskaters.
Zhang Hong surprised by gliding to the top of the podium in ladies' 1,000 meters. The result was a shocker, as noted by The Associated Press (h/t ESPN):
Many fans didn't even see the gold-medal performance, drifting in late to Adler Arena since the supposed big guns were all set to go in the second half of the session. Zhang was merely a spectator after the ice was resurfaced at the midway point, but her smile kept getting bigger as no one came close to beating her time.
American Heather Richardson had been No. 1 in the World Cup standings, but the U.S. skaters have not found success in Sochi. As U.S. sprint coach Ryan Shimabukro put it after the event: "I'm at a loss for words right now. For whatever reason right now, we are getting skunked."
Sang Hwa Lee took gold in the ladies' 500 meters. She will be a household name in that country, with the only other medal for the Koreans being a bronze in short-track speedskating.
Most impressively, she beat all comers while nursing a sore knee. According to Patrick Johnston of Reuters (h/t The Globe and Mail), Lee told reporters how she felt after the race: "I like it. But I didn't know that I could do that. I wasn't sure that I could get a gold medal because my left knee was hurting and other competitors had pretty good results.”
C'mon, that's just rubbing it in.
Olga Fatkulina stamped silver in the ladies' 500 meters, and Olga Graf took bronze in the 3,000 meters.
The Russians have found success in other events with 11 medals so far, but gold has proved elusive all but twice. Surely they were hoping for more hardware, but that's only because the hosts always hope for more. There are plenty of events to come, including all-important ice hockey.
Martina Sablikova came in with silver in the ladies' 3,000 meters. It is the only medal for the nation so far that did not come from the biathlon, where the Czech Republic won silver and bronze.
Denny Morrison skated to silver in the 1,000 meters to spoil the run of medal sweeps by the Dutch men.
Canada also claimed a gold in short-track speedskating, but the lion's share of the country's medals has come on the slopes, where Canadians have taken six freestyle-skiing medals and three gold.
It's not over yet, as some countries seek redemption and the Dutch seek still more precious metal.
Up next, the men skate 1,500 meters on Saturday, and the ladies do the same on Sunday. Tuesday starts the long haul with the men's 10,000 meters followed by ladies' 5,000 meters on Wednesday. The men's and ladies' team-pursuit events take place on Feb. 21 and 22.
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