My final update…
The semifinal of the ladies team pursuit kicked things off and went pretty much as expected. The close match between Russia and Poland went in Poland’s favour, who to their credit kept it together much closer and more ‘tightly’ than the Russian team who were often out of time with each other. Japan put in a measured effort against the Dutch team who swapped out Lotte Van Beek for Marrit Leenstra to keep the team as fresh as possible for the final. The Dutch won that matchup as expected, and the Japanese went on to face Russia in the bronze medal match.
The placement finals (for positions 5-8) went largely as expected, and then it was down to the ‘medal’ finals. First the matchups for the bronze medals. In the men’s the Canadians started off strong and looked like they would run away with it, but the Poles skated a more steady-splits gameplan, and they slowly reeled in the Canadians and as the Canadians faded, the Polish team were triumphant and took the bronze. The gold medal matchup started interestingly enough with Korea staying within two hundredths of the Dutch splits for the first half of the race, but as the time wore on the pedigree of the Dutch skaters shone through, with the gold and silver medalists from the 5k, and the silver medallist from the 1500 in their team. The Dutch prevailed, smashing the olympic record, and were within two seconds of the world record.
In the ladies medal matchups, first it was Russia vs Japan. After a slightly raggedy start, Japan took the lead and looked liked they might hold off the Russians, but the Russians stayed calm and caught Japan… and Japan slowed down significantly in the last few laps anyway. In the gold medal match, it was the Dutch’s gold medal to win or lose, and right from the start, there was no doubt about who was faster. The Dutch took a commanding lead and never looked back. With three laps to go, it looked like they might challenge for the world record, but they didn’t, they stayed on their feet and came into the finishing straight being able to see the Polish skaters at the end of the same straight. They smashed the olympic record for the third time this games and easily took the gold medal, leaving the Poles with the silver.
Well, that’s it from me for these Olympics. I might write one or two more ‘specials’ but since there aren’t any speed skating events left, there will be no more daily updates. I hope you’ve enjoyed them, as I have enjoyed sharing the journey with all of you. See you all in four years, if not sooner!
Don’t forget to click on the sochi2104 tag below to read other articles about these olympics. You may also want to read the ‘Sochi Specials’ some of which have been very popular, the close finish of the mens 1500m has raised questions about the timing equipment used in speed skating, while the controversy surrounding the American’s suits might lead you to read the article where I articulate why it is NOT about the suits. There was also a short article added yesterday about why speed skaters don’t tear up the ice in the same way that hockey skaters do, and the recent addition giving ordinary folk an insight into a day in the life of an olympic athlete.