Speedskating at the 2014 Winter Olympics is one step closer to coming to an end, as the women just completed the 5,000-meter medal event to close out individual competition in Sochi.
Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic successfully defended her gold medal and held off a push from two Dutch superstars to top the podium. According to Paul Newberry of the Associated Press (via ABC News), she set a track record of 6 minutes, 51.54 seconds in the victory.
While neither claimed first place in the 5,000-meter, Ireen Wust and Carien Kleibeuker allowed the Netherlands to once again display its absolute dominance over the rest of the world in this discipline.
The pair became the 20th and 21st athletes, respectively, from the nation to win a speedskating medal during the Sochi Games after their performances at Adler Skating Center on Wednesday.
Willie Cornblatt of NBC Olympics tried to put that figure in perspective for fans:
Let’s take a look at how each competitor fared during the women’s 5,000-meter event, plus recap some of the better performances of Day 12 and take a look at the remaining speedskating contests of the current Winter Games.
When it was revealed that Sablikova and Wust would be the second-to-last pairing, almost everyone expected that it would provide the top two finishes. It certainly lived up to expectations, as the duo finished first and second at the end of the 5,000-meter race.
The 26-year-old defending champ was simply better at this distance and added to her medal tally in Sochi. Sablikova had previously earned silver in the 3,000-meter event, falling short of only Wust when they raced on Feb. 9.
The esteemed Dutchwoman would have to settle for second this time around, as Wust was not able to add another gold to her collection. She finished nearly three seconds behind the leader and now has one gold and three silvers to her name during these Winter Games.
Wust said the pressure has been off since winning her first event, according to Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo! Sports:
"Seventeen million Dutch wanted me to win. Now the extreme pressure is off and I can win more."
Kleibeuker was in first after she went in the fifth pairing, but it would not stand up for long. Her time of 6:55.28 was 4.12 seconds behind Sablikova’s top mark, but a mere .11 seconds ahead of fourth-place finisher Olga Graf of host nation Russia.
Tony Manfred of Business Insider noted that the Netherlands' failure to win gold in this event actually lowered its medal percentage in speedskating:
Actually lowers their medal percentage in speed skating, insanely RT @rdemak: Two more medals for the Dutch at speed skating.— Tony Manfred (@tonymanfred) February 19, 2014
Team USA failed to reach the podium in this event and therefore has officially gone medal-less in individual speedskating competitions during these Winter Olympics.
Maria Lamb was the Americans' last hope to earn a top-three finish, but she came up well short. Her time of 7:29.64 was the worst of every finalist and she finished in 16th place.
The 2014 Winter Olympics are coming to an end and there are just two days left on the schedule that will feature speedskating.
Will the Dutch sweep the remaining team events?
Friday will feature the qualifying rounds for both the men’s and women’s team pursuit. The finals for those team events will take place on Saturday, with the men starting things off at 8:51 a.m. ET and the ladies starting off shortly after at 9:14 a.m. ET.
Expect to see a number of familiar faces at these team competitions, each hoping to earn a medal in the last event its discipline has to offer. It’s been a crazy ride thus far and it will be interesting to see if any nation can dethrone the Netherlands, loosening the country's stranglehold on the sport of speedskating.