Not only did the Men’s 5000M speed skating event see one of the first medal rounds in Sochi 2014, but it also saw the breaking of an Olympic record. The Men’s 5000M speeding skating race is the second longest distance that the men will skate at the winter Olympics this year behind only the 10000.
In the 5000M event there are no qualification rounds. Competitors race in pairs as they alternate between the inside and outside tracks on the rink. They participate in one race and the best times from those races will be awarded with Olympic medals.
Historically, the Netherlands is one of the strongest countries in speed skating and that was evident on day three of the Winter Olympics. Defending Vancouver gold medalist, Sven Kramer of the Netherlands came into the Olympics this year hoping to erase memories of past mishaps.
In the 2006 winter games in Turin, a teenage Sven Kramer hit a lane marker during the team pursuit event which cost the Dutch team a chance at a medal. In Vancouver 2010, on the advice from his coach, Kramer switched lanes at an illegal time, which cost him what was sure to be a gold medal in the 10000M.
Kramer delivered in Sochi 2014 as his time of 6 minutes 10.76 seconds broke an Olympic record. Kramer beat his own previous Olympic record of 6 minutes 14.60 seconds, which he set en route to winning gold in Vancouver. The 27-year-old Dutchmen’s fastest lap in Sochi was an impressive 29.04 seconds. Kramer was in the fourth to last pairing along with American, Jonathan Kuck, who finished 19th overall.
Kramer was not the only Dutchmen on the podium for the men’s 5000M. The Dutch would sweep the podium as countrymen Jan Blokhuijsen and Jorrit Bergsma both put together stellar times in their pairings. Blokhuijsen’s time of 6 minutes 15.71 seconds earned him a silver medal, while Bergsma’s time of 6 minutes 16.66 seconds was good enough for bronze.
The three medals by the Dutch just reinforced their dominance as a country in the sport of speed skating. The Netherlands now have 28 medals all-time in speed skating events which is second all time and only one medal behind the United States for most all time. The Dutch will also be contenders for more medals in speed skating events to come.
Sven Kramer will have to quickly shift his attention and focus to the Men’s 10000M event. He was happy with his performance and result from the 5000M, but believes the only get rid of the memories of his blunder in Vancouver, will be to take home a gold medal in the 10000M.
Kramer is in the prime of his skating career at the age of 27, and will be looking to add to his already impressive resume in Sochi. He is a six-time European champion and now a two-time defending gold medalist.
It is only day three of the Winter Olympic games in Sochi 2014 and already Olympic Records are being broken. The next two weeks are sure to be an exciting time for winter athletics worldwide.
By Eric Kummel