Just when I thought this Olympics couldn’t get more unpredictable, the men’s 10,000m threw me another curve ball. Heavily favored for the win, Sven Kramer is disqualified under the most unusual of circumstances. While making a routine lane change from the inner to the outer, coach Gerard Kemkers has a brain cramp and tells him to go inside, Sven obediently obliges and is disqualified for failing to change lanes. He continued to skate, oblivious to this, to set a winning time only to have a post race meeting with Kemkers that can only be described as “heated”. That left 5000m silver medalist Lee Seung Hoon of Korea in the gold medal position, followed by Ivan Skobrev of Russia, then Bob de Jong also of the Netherlands.
In the ladies’ 5000m the clear favorite is Czech Martina Sablikova. Stephanie Beckert of Germany could be a threat as she has a really good kick for the finish, but since she isn’t paired with Sablikova, I don’t think she’ll quite get there. Kristina Groves and Clara Hughes will have the home crowd support and could lift, Groves in particular could be one to watch out for. Daniela Anschutz Thoms from Germany is also a medal threat, especially since she is in the last pair with Martina and will be able to measure her pace off her.
The wild card to watch for is Elma de Vries of the Netherlands. If her head is in a good place, she could conceivably win this event, but the mental aspect is so unpredictable it is impossible to say at this stage. Norway’s Maren Haugli is also an outside chance for a medal and should be inspired after her brother finished 6th in the 10k.