In the speedskating events in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, it’s the Netherlands' world, and we are all just living in it.
Alex Goldberger of NBC reported just how dominant the Dutch have been in a tweet from Tuesday:
The Netherlands will only have one speedskating event on the Day 12 docket to try to add to its impressive medal tally. That event is the women’s 5,000-meter long-track race in a competition that combines speed with incredible stamina.
It is the longest women's speedskating event at the Games and may be the closest thing the Winter Olympics has to compare to the marathon of the Summer Olympics.
Here is a schedule and broadcast information for the event:
Long-Track Speedskating: Women’s 5,000-meter Schedule
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 19
Time: 8:30 a.m. EST, 5:30 p.m. Sochi time and 1:30 p.m. GMT
TV Broadcast: NBC at 3 p.m. (rebroadcast) and BBC at 1:30 p.m. GMT
Live Stream: NBCOlympics.com
So who will take home the medals in this grueling race? Let’s dig into some names to watch.
Names to Watch
Martina Sablikova, Czech Republic
If there is a favorite in the 5,000-meter race, it is Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic.
She is the defending gold medalist in the discipline from the 2010 Games in Vancouver and already has a silver medal in Sochi from the 3,000-meter race under her belt. She is a long-distance specialist which is evidenced by her eight world titles in the long-distance competitions.
Much like Shaun White on the snowboarding side of things, Sablikova elected to skip the 1,500-meter race in Sochi to focus on her strengths in the long-distance races even though she captured the bronze in Vancouver in the 1,500 meters.
Of course, she is hoping for a better result than the American snowboarder got in the halfpipe after skipping slopestyle.
Sablikova became the first-ever Olympian from the Czech Republic to win a speedskating medal and has finished first in the overall World Cup standings for the 3,000- and 5,000-meter distances an incredible seven years in a row.
Claudia Pechstein, Germany
There is an air of controversy when it comes to Claudia Pechstein of Germany.
On one hand, she has nine total Olympic medals, five of which are gold, and she can become the most decorated female Olympian of all time with one more medal. She also has more Olympic medals than any speedskater in history.
However, on the other end of the spectrum is the reality that Pechstein was banned from the Vancouver Olympics because of blood-doping charges.
She told The Associated Press' Graham Dunbar (via USA Today) at the time that she would be back at the Games:
“I'm 100 percent certain that, sooner or later, I will be completely rehabilitated. Everyone who believes in and supports me can be sure that they will definitely see me on the ice again."
The long-distance specialist would probably like her most recent Olympic memories to be atop a podium instead of surrounded by the controversy of the doping ban, so expect a spirited effort in this race.
Yvonne Nauta, Netherlands
The Netherlands’ best chance at adding to its incredible medal count in speedskating in this event is Yvonne Nauta.
She is also a long-distance specialist who won her first-ever World Cup medal in Kazakhstan with a third-place finish in the 5,000-meter race. Building on that momentum, Nauta finished second overall at the European Championships behind a silver medal in the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter and a bronze in the 1,500-meter.
Looking forward, it may be too tall of a task to ask Nauta to defeat the likes of Pechstein and Sablikova at her first Olympics.
However, she has the talent, the speed and the stamina necessary to finish on the podium and take home an Olympic medal.
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