Talk of Sven Kramer's lane-changing gaffe continued on Wednesday, with the Dutch star declaring that he will stay with his embattled coach, Gerard Kemkers. Under Kemkers' guidance, the 23-year-old Kramer has seen plenty of success. "Three times world champion, four times European champion, so many World Cups and Olympic gold in the 5,000 meters," Kramer said. Also on Day 13, Martina Sablikova won the women's 5000m race for her second gold medal of these Games.
One of the top stories of these Olympics -- and certainly the top story in the speed skating competition -- was the Sven Kramer lane-changing gaffe that cost him the 10,000m gold medal today. Kramer's coach, Gerard Kemkers, mistakenly waved Kramer to the inside lane on lap 17. Kemkers realized the error moments later and was distraught throughout the remainder of the race. Kramer skated the fastest time of the day and had the gold medal won; he was then disqualified for an improper lane switch.
There were no speed skating events today. Among the day's news items was an AP story about Canada's lack of long track speed skating titles at these Olympics despite logging more practice time at the Richmond Olympic Oval than any other nation. To date, the host country has just one gold medal, courtesy of Christine Nesbitt in the women's 1000m.
For the second straight day, a Dutch skater found his or her way to the top of the results sheet. Ireen Wust claimed victory in the women's 1500m event, following in the footsteps of countryman Mark Tuitert and his triumph in the men's race one day earlier. Canadian Kristina Groves placed second and distance specialist Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic was third.
Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands pulled off a stunning upset in the men's 1500m on Day 9, edging out American Shani Davis -- the clear favorite heading into the race -- for the gold medal. Davis finished about a half second behind the winning time. Chad Hedrick, who was expected to place in the top 5 -- and possibly the top 3 -- finished sixth. Davis ended the 2010 Olympics the same as he did the 2006 Games: gold in the 1000m, silver in the 1500m.
Christine Nesbitt won Canada's first speed skating gold medal of the 2010 Games today, as she skated to the 1000m title. Afterward, however, Nesbitt admitted her legs felt sluggish and her technique was off during the race. "This is not going well," she thought to herself. The 24-year-old was able to fight through the demons -- and the slow ice at the Richmond Oval -- to hang on for a victory.
Americans Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick were shining stars on the ice at the Richmond Oval today, as the pair finished first and third, respectively, in the men's 1000m. South Korean sensation Mo Tae-Bum slid into second. "That race depleted me 100 percent," Davis said. Hedrick finished just 0.38 seconds behind Davis, a performance that provides hype to this weekend's 1500m -- a showdown that could see the two Americans back on the podium.
Another South Korean -- Lee Sang-Hwa -- flexed the country's muscles on the rink today. A day after countryman Mo Tae-Bum upset the men's 500m field, Lee topped heavily-favored German Jenny Wolf in the women's race by a combined 0.05 seconds in the two runs that make up the event. China's Wang Beixing placed third. Also, there were no issues with the ice resurfacing machines, a day after there was an hour delay because of mechanical troubles.
Problems with the ice resurfacing machines caused delays at the Richmond Oval today, but the bigger story was the emergence of the South Korean team -- a country usually known for its talented short track skaters. Mo Tae-Bum shocked the world with a victory in the men's 500m event. It was Mo's 21st birthday, so what better way to celebrate than to win a gold medal? "It's my present to Koreans," Mo said.
Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic claimed victory in the women's 3000m event on Day 2, scorching the field by over two seconds. She kept her lap times under 32 seconds until her last trip around the oval. With her slender body type, Sablikova is different from other speed skaters. Instead of muscular thighs she has thin legs, and instead of long, powerful strides she resorts to a short, choppy method. Canada's Kristina Groves won the bronze medal.
Sven Kramer started his Olympics on a high note, winning the 5000m race on the second day of the Games. Kramer's time of 6:14.60 set an Olympic record, and he was over two seconds faster than second-place Lee Seung-Hoon of South Korea. Lee, a virtual unknown heading into the race, was able to secure the silver-medal upset. Americans Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick finished out of the top 10.
With the start of the speed skating competition a day away, athletes geared up for the racing on Day 1. Practices were held at the Richmond Olympic Oval, just south of downtown Vancouver. Among the storylines were Dutchman Sven Kramer, whose run at triple gold would start on Saturday, and Eric Heiden, the former U.S. skater who won five gold medals at the 1980 Games. Also, it became known that Team Netherlands was wearing high-tech racing suits on the ice.