In speedskating at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the competitors from the Netherlands have hogged the medals with the rest of the world trailing far behind. The sport wraps up at the Sochi Games with the men's and ladies' team pursuits, so at least the Dutch are done dominating on an individual basis.
We look ahead to the remaining speedskating events and preview the action in team pursuit on Friday ahead of Saturday's finals.
When: Friday, Feb. 21; men's team pursuit quarterfinal at 8:30 a.m. ET, semifinal 10:13 a.m.; ladies' team pursuit quarterfinal at 9:23 a.m. (all times ET)
Where: Adler Arena Skating Center, Sochi, Russia
Watch: Men's team on NBC Primetime, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.; women's team on NBC Latenight 12:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. (on Feb. 22)
Dutch skaters have claimed 21 out of a possible 30 speedskating medals so far, earning six gold, seven silver and eight bronze. No other country has more than two.
The Netherlands swept the medal stand in the men's 500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters and the ladies' 1,500 meters. The nation has won a single medal outside of regular speedskating, and that was a bronze in short-track.
Male skaters Jorrit Bergsma and Michel Mulder each collected a gold and a bronze medal. Mulder's identical twin brother Ronald even won bronze in the event Michel won gold. Female skater Ireen Wust claimed a gold and three silver.
Here's the lesson: Don't bet against the Netherlands.
Oddschecker.com lists the men's team at 1-12 odds for the gold. The United States is a favorite for silver as a 6-1 shot, and South Korea is running as the third horse at 14-1. Norway, Canada, Poland and Russia are also in the mix but are not considered to be top-three teams.
On the ladies' side, the Netherlands remains favored for gold but not by such a wide margin at 1-5 odds. Canada trails with 4-1, Poland is a 9-1 shot and the Germans have an outside chance at 16-1.
The medal outcome on Saturday is far from a lock, and everyone will be looking to spoil the Netherlands' party. Zbigniew Brodka is a skater to watch after taking gold in the men's 500 meters for Poland, the only individual gold the Dutch men did not claim.
Canada's Denny Morrison already has a silver in the men's 1,000 and a bronze in the 1,500 meters at Sochi. Canada won gold in the men's team pursuit at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, and it is considered Morrison's best event. Morrison has turned in a stunningly successful games so far, and he could be poised for more greatness in Sochi yet.
As noted by Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, his success so far has been a shocker: "Two medals for Canada in the Adler Arena, in arguably the most classic core sport of the Winter Olympics, and Morrison has both of them in a Games where he had not been expected to contend for the podium in an individual event."
Morrison hasn't just shocked his countrymen and his teammates, but he's irked his competitors too. Russian speedskater Denis Yuskov seemed a little exasperated after finishing fourth behind Morrison's bronze in the men's 1,500 meters: "I have no idea what he has been doing before. I've never seen him get a medal, and now he has two."
However, the United States could wash away the bitter taste from speedskating in Sochi by medaling again in team pursuit.
The men won silver in 2010, and another team medal in 2014 would help the nation forget about the agita over the new possibly slower uniforms. U.S. speedskaters won four medals in 2010 but none so far in Sochi.
Regardless of the medal result in team pursuit, it's already been a wildly successful Olympics for the Dutch at Adler Arena Skating Center. Since this is team pursuit, the Netherlands will be limited to no more than one medal per event.
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