Speedskating at the 2014 Winter Olympics has come to a close, as both the men’s and women’s team pursuit events took place on Saturday in Sochi.
Both of these thrilling races featured skaters from the Netherlands vying for the gold medal and extending their collective dominance in this discipline. The Dutch men faced South Korea in the gold-medal final, while the women went up against Poland.
While it was close on both sides, the Dutch team of Jan Blokhuijsen, Sven Kramer and Koen Verweij were the best of the men’s competition and set an Olympic record with their time of 3 minutes, 37.71 seconds.
The Netherlands women also set an Olympic record and took home the gold. Marrit Leenstra, Jorier Ter Mors and Ireen Wust emerged atop the podium for the women with a time of 2:58.05.
Let’s take a look at the final scores for every participant, plus recap some of the best performances from both races and highlight what is to come now that this sport has reached its conclusion at the Winter Games.
|Final B||POL||Zbigniew Brodka, Konrad Niedzwiedzki, Jan Szymanski||3:41.94||1||3|
|Final B||CAN||Mathieu Giroux, Lucas Makowsky, Denny Morrison||3:44.27||2||4|
|Final A||NED||Jan Blokhuisen, Sven Kramer, Koen Verweij||3:37.71 (OR)||1||1|
|Final A||KOR||Hyong Jun Joo, Cheol Min Kim, Seung Hoon Lee||3:40.85||2||2|
|Final B||RUS||Olga Graf, Yekaterina Lobysheva, Yuliya Skokova||2:59.73||1||3|
|Final B||JPN||Misaki Oshigiri, Maki Tabata, Nana Takagi||3:02.57||2||4|
|Final A||NED||Marrit Leenstra, Jorien Ter Mors, Ireen Wust||2:58.05 (OR)||1||1|
|Final A||POL||Katarzyna Bachleda - Curus, Katarzyna Wozniak, Luiza Zlotkowska||3:05.55||2||2|
As expected, the Netherlands skaters were not only dominant, but also downright special during the team pursuit event.
Willie Cornblatt of NBC Olympics noted that South Korea put up a fight in the men’s final, but ultimately fell to the transcendent Dutch, who capped their amazing Olympic run with a record-setting time in this event:
Korea started very well, kept it really close, but Dutch were just too much and ended with a big margin and Olympic record— Willie Cornblatt (@WillieCornblatt) February 22, 2014
Poland was able to emerge with the bronze medal by defeating Canada in the B Finals, finishing over two seconds ahead of the fourth-place side.
The team of Zbigniew Brodka, Konrad Niedzwiedzki and Jan Szymanski never gave up and hit the podium with a valiant come-from-behind effort to top Mathieu Giroux, Lucas Makowsky and Denny Morrison.
Cornblatt tweeted out his astonishment after the pairing:
The women were also record-setting and had a lead of more than three seconds with five laps still to go, according to Cornblatt:
Wait, what? Netherlands starts with almost a three second lead with five laps to go, this is wild #speedskating— Willie Cornblatt (@WillieCornblatt) February 22, 2014
Wust, one of the premier skaters for the Dutch women, did not even need to skate in the final to become one of the most decorated athletes in Winter Olympic history.
As per Infostrada Sports, only nine other people have accomplished the feat of winning five medals in a single Winter Games:
#Sochi2014 Ireen WÜST (NED) equals a Winter Olympic record by winning FIVE medals at a single Winter Games. 10th person to achieve this.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaGold) February 22, 2014
Wust admitted that the pressure has been off her since she broke through and topped her first podium in Sochi, her third-straight Winter Olympics with at least one gold.
As per Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo Sports, she won the 3,000-meter on Sunday, Feb. 9, and told reporters: ''Seventeen million Dutch wanted me to win, now the extreme pressure is off and I can win more.''
She definitely won more, claiming silver in the 1,000-meter, 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter before earning Saturday’s gold medal.
Host Russia earned a piece of the podium for its sterling performance in the B Finals on the women’s side. Olga Graf, Yekaterina Lobysheva and Yuliya Skokova’s time of 2:59.73 was top-notch and put them across the finish line nearly three seconds faster than fourth-place Japan.
Speedskating at the 2014 Winter Olympics was absolutely owned by the Dutch, as their contingent took home a ridiculous 23 medals, including eight golds.
Infostrada Sports found that this is the most golds won by one country in one sport during one Olympic Games:
#Sochi2014 NED won 7th gold medal in speed skating at Sochi Games, breaking record of most gold won by one NOC in one sport at one OWG.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaGold) February 22, 2014
It was an unprecedented run of dominance, a large reason why the Netherlands is still in the running to claim the most medals at Sochi with just over one day left of Olympic action.
Here’s a look at the latest medal standings courtesy of Bleacher Report:
Many of these elite speedskaters will now start training for the upcoming World Cup and World Championships, which represent the highest honors in this sport until the Winter Olympics come to South Korea in 2018.
The World Cup starts back up in Inzell, Germany, on March 14 and runs through March 16. This is the fifth stop on the tour, which ends with the World Championships for both the men and women in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
That season-ending competition will begin on March 21 and conclude on March 23. Expect to see many of the familiar faces from Sochi, especially on the Dutch side, competing in these epic events and attempting to add more hardware to their already-impressive trophy cases.