Olympic Results and Storylines

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Halfway through the first week of the Olympics it was becoming clear the U.S. struggles in Sochi in 2014 were not an anomaly.  U.S. skaters simply aren’t as good as the rest of the world.  The Men’s team’s best shot at a medal, early in the games, appeared to be the 1,500m.  Skaters finished 8th, 15th, and 19th.  The Women’s best shot, early in the games, was likely the 1,500m as well, but Brittany Bowe, and Heather Bergsma ended up 5th, and 8th.  Brittany Bowe, despite not medalling, has been one of the lone bright spots.  She has consistently skated in the pairs before the final pairs and posted the time to beat.  She has had to sit on the trainer bike or the side of the ice and watch the final pairs knock her down the board and has handled it with the utmost class.

The short track team didn’t fair much better.  Mamme Biney was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Women’s 500.  The Men’s 5k relay team finished third in its heat and was eliminated.

Similarly the U.S. Curling team is off to a lousy start.  Mixed doubles made its Olympic debut and the U.S. team won its first game, but the brother sister team struggled to an early exit after that.  But, hey, we did get a silver in Men’s luge.  Did you see the wreck by Emily Sweeney in Women’s luge?  Watching it live I thought she had broken both her ankles when she slammed feet first into the wall.  But, you gotta do something pretty stupid to break both your ankles, so thankfully she was able to walk away and is reportedly okay.

As the Olympics progressed, the speedskating medal count barely budged.  The men’s curling team out of Duluth, however, knocked off Canada in the semifinals and advanced to win the gold.  Minnesotan Jessica Diggins pulled off the Olympics most dramatic moment with her come from behind photo finish win for the first U.S. gold in a Nordic event.  Another Minnesotan, was the gold medal winning goalie for the U.S. Women’s Hockey team in their shootout defeat of Canada.

Speedskating Medals:

Long Track: Women’s Team Pursuit Bronze

Short Track: John-Henry Krueger, Silver, Men’s 1000m

 

LONG TRACK

Women’s 3K

1. Carlijn Achtereekte, Dutch, 3:59.21

2. Ireen Wurst, Dutch, 3:59.29

3. Antoinette de Jong, Dutch, 4:00:2

Americans

22. Carlijn Schoutens (who plans to head to med school after her skating career), 4:15.6

 

Women’s 1,500m

1. Ireen Wust, Dutch, 1:54.35

2. Miho Takagi, Japan, 1:54.55

3. Marritt Leenstra, Dutch, 1:55.26

A 5 AM local start time meant we were able to view this event live.  Brittany Bowe was in an earlier pair and held the lead for quite a spell.  Her 1:55 was the same as her time at Olympic Trials and consistent with her 2017 times.  Bowe used a blistering first lap around 28 seconds.  Ireen Wust knocked Bowe off the top of the pedestal with a strong last lap.  After losing gold in the 3k by 8 hundredths of a second, Wust was on a mission.  She is now the most decorated skater in the Netherlands.  The next pair had another Dutch skater, Marritt Leenstra, whose first laps were faster than Bowe and Wust, but she couldn’t hold the pace on the last lap and skated a 32 second lap.   Lotte Van Beek made it a sweep for the Netherlands, with one pair to go by knocking Bowe out of third.  The final pairing was the fastest women in the world this year, Miho Takagi of Japan, against American Heather (Richardson) Bergsma.  Bergsma was in the gold medal position, until the last lap when she faded and Takagi passed her. Bergsma faded badly in the last 150 meters.  Takagi broke up the Dutch sweep by taking second.

Americans:

5. Brittany Bowe 1:55.54

8. Heather Bergsma 1:56.73

22. Mia Manganello 1:59.93

 

Women’s 1000

1.  Jorien Ter Mors, Dutch, 1:13.56

2. Nao Kodaira, Japan, 1:13.82

3. Miho Takagi, Japan, 1:13.98

Another near miss by Brittany Bowe.  She has finished fifth and fourth in her two events so far.  Just like in the 1500m, Bowe posted a great time, but had to wait out the final few pairs, which knocked her out again.  Bowe stumbled slightly the final time through the fourth turn, and that might have been the difference because she did skate a great race.  Dutch skater Jorien Ter Mers, who was paired with Bowe, also competes on the short track Olympic team. Jorien ter Mors time was an Olympic, and track record.  Ireen Wust finished 9th, which is her worst Olympic performance, and the first time since 2010 she failed to medal in one of her events.  Heather was World Champ on that track a year ago at the test event, but struggled on the final lap.

Americans

4. Brittany Bowe, 1:14.36

8. Heather Bergsma, 1:15.15

28. Jerica Tandiman, 1:18.02

 

Women’s 5k

1. Esmee Visser, Dutch, 6:50:23 Track/Olympic Record

2. Martina Sablikova, CZE, 6:51:85

3. Natalia Voronina, Russia, 6:53:98

Americans

11. Carlijn Schoutens, 7:13:28

 

Women’s 500

1. Nao Kodairi, Japan, 36.94 OR

2. Sang-Hwa Lee, South Korea, 37.33

3. Carolina Erbanova, CZE, 37.33

Americans

5. Brittany Bowe, 37.50

11. Heather Bergsma, 38.13

24. Erin Jackson, 39.20

 

Men’s 10k

1. Ted-Jan Boemen, Canada, 12:39 OR

2. Jorrit Bergsma, Dutch 12:41 OR

3. Nicola Tumoleros, Italy, 12:54

America didn’t qualify for the 10k.  Jorrit Bergsma is the husband of U.S. Skater Heather (Richardson) Bergsma.  Bergmsa set the Olympic record.  That record held up for about 15 minutes, as Boemen broke it in the next pair.  The biggest story out of this event is that Sven Kramer didn’t win, he finished sixth out of twelve in a time of 13:01.  Bart Swings was 8th.

 

Men’s 5k

1. Sven Kramer, Dutch, 6:09.76, Olympic Record

2. Ted-Jan Bloemen, Canada, 6:11.616

3. Sverre Lunde Peterson, Norway, 6:11.618

Americans

21. Emory Lehman, 6:31.16

Bart Swings, of Belgium, was 6th.  Click here for full media coverage of the 5k.

 

Men’s 1500m

1. Kjeld Nuis, Dutch, 1:44.01

2. Patrick Roest, Dutch, 1:44.86

3. Min Seok Kim , South Korea, 1:44.93

Americans

8. Joey Mantia, 1:45.86

15. Brian Hansen, 1:46.44

19. Shani “Coin Flips Are Racist” Davis, 1:46.74

The 1500 is the longest sprint event.  Broadcasters compared it to the 800 meters in track and field.  Sprinting four laps is brutal.  Top skaters will start with laps of 26 seconds and try to hold that pace as long as they can.  Roest skated early in the event and posted a time it would take a track record to beat.  Roest was the only skater in the field to skate a personal or season best in the event.  Shani was paired with Bart Swings and had a 26 second first lap.  But it was Swings with a 26 second lap on the second go round.  Davis faded badly with a 29+ final lap.  Bart Swings is a former NSIM winner, and the Berlin Inline Marathon record holder.   Swings would end up 6th.  Brian Hansen, a three time Olympian, opened with two 26 second laps, then a 27 followed by a 29 to fall off the pace.  Interestingly, Hansen wears a black skate on the left foot and a white skate on the right foot.  Hansen won a silver medal in the pursuit in his first Olympics.  Canadian Denny Morrison, one of the many skaters to beat Shani “Coin Flips Are Racist” Davis, made the team after recovering from a stoke that occurred while competing in a 20 day bike riding competition.  Morrison’s wife is on the Women’s team.  Thirty two year old Mantia, in the final pair, wearing about the stupidest looking glasses you will see, opened with a 23.5, finished his first lap in 25.93, but had a closing lap of 29.  The Oakley neon green and red glasses also came in goggles and were sported by many foolish looking athletes.

 

Men’s 1000m

1.  Kjeld Nuis, Dutch, 1:07.95 TR

2.  Havard Lorentzen, Norway, 1:07.99

3. Tae-Yun Kim, South Korea, 1:08.22

Americans

4. Joey Mantia, 1:08.56

7. Shani “Coin Flips Are Racist” Davis, 1:08.78

10. Mitch Whitmore, 1:09.17

Mantia drew an early pair and skated a great race.  He looked sharp after ditching the ugly neon and red glasses for white ones that matched his gloves.  He was a little slow off the line and his opener was a couple tenths slower than the fastest.  His lap times, however, were very strong.  Mantia held the lead for one pair, the Shani pairing, and then Kim skating in front of the home crowd started Mantia headed down the board.  Mantia will have little time to recover for tomorrows Mass Start where he is the favorite.  Mitch Whitmore had a solid performance and plans to retire and coach after the games.  Shani “Coin Flips Are Racist” Davis was over two seconds off his World Record, which he set 9 year ago.

The four hundredths of a second difference between first and second is the equivalent of a distance just a bit longer than the length of the skate blade.  The 1000m event was disrupted by a male streaker wearing a pink tutu.

Minnesota nordic skier Jessica Diggins will carry the U.S. flag at the Closing Ceremonies after her gold medal performance.

 

Men’s 500m

1. Havard Lorentzen, Norway, 34.41 OR / TR

2. Min-Kyu Cha, South Korea, 34.42

3. Tingyu Gao, China, 34. 65

Americans

15. Mitch Whitmore, 35.13

23. Jonathan Garcia, 35.31

26. Kimmani Griffin, 35.38

 

Women’s Team Pursuit

1. Japan

2. Netherlands

3. America

Brittany Bowe, Heather Bergsma, Mia Mangelleno made up the bronze medal winning team.  All was nearly lost in the final turn when Mia, who was leading the paceline was nearly run over by the more powerful teammates behind her.  Carlijn Schoutens skated for the U.S. team in a preliminary race and will also receive a medal.

 

Men’s Team Pursuit

1. Norway

2.  South Korea

3. Dutch

 

Men’s Mass Start

1.  Lee Seung-Hoon, South Korea

2. Bart Swings, Belgium

3. Koen Verweij, Netherlands

Sixteen lap event with a few preem sprint laps that award points.  Top three finishers in the qualifying heats automatically advance.  Advancement after the top three free pass position was based on time and any points won in the preem sprint laps.  Brian Hansen failed to advance from his qualifying heat, Olivier Jean of Canada won that heat.  In the second qualifying heat Bart Swings led the skaters across the line, Mantia advanced after finishing second in a preem sprint lap.

In the final, Sven Kramer, Bart Swings and Olivier Jean dueled at the front while Mantia was content to sit in dead last of the sixteen skaters. The first sprint lap bunched those four skaters back together. With 9 laps to go three skaters were well ahead of the field, but the pack didn’t seem concerned.  With four to go the three at the front were down to two, but had a 75 yard lead.  Then Sven Kramer took off and caught and then passed the two that had broken away. Mantia sat in the back. Two to go and Mantia is around 8th place.   In the final lap sprint Mantia picked off skaters that were giving up and ended up fourth across the line, but due to the points being awarded for sprint laps he finishes a disappointing ninth place.  It was a poor strategic race by Mantia to never be in a contending position at any point in the race.   He never made a move.

Lee Seung-Hoon paraded his teammate around the track with him on his victory lap to acknowledge the efforts of the 16 year old to protect and pull for Seung-Hoon in the final.  Kramer is credited with doing the same thing for his teammate Koen Verweij, as he led out the final push and then stood up finishing last.

 

Women’s Mass Start

1. Nana Takagi, Japan

2. Kim Bo-Reum, South Korea

3. Irene Schoutens, Netherlands

Americans

11. Heather Bergsma

15. Mia Mangenello

With two laps to go Mia was pulling a paceline of 7 skaters with Heather in about fifth spot.  Mia started to get passed and stood up conceding defeat.  Heather wasn’t able to keep up with the rest of the pack as the pace intensified.  The Netherlands Schoutens led in the final turn but curiously took a very wide exit.  Her poor strategy allowed the Japanese Takagi to breeze by her and at the line Kim Bo-Reum edged her by half a skate blade.  Japan and South Korea had terrific long track Olympics.  The home team always gets a boost, but it is clear Japan has vastly improved its training and talent development.

 

SHORT TRACK

Men’s 1500m

1. Lim Hyojun, South Korea

2. Sjinke Knegt, Dutch

3. Semen Elistratov, Russia

Dutch skater draws attention for appearing to flip the bird while posing for photos on the medal stand, again.

 

Men’s 1000m

1. Sam Girard

2. John Henry Krueger, USA

3. Seo Ya-ra, South Korea

Finally a US medal, but only after every other skater except Girard fall in the Final.

J.R. Celski, who fell multiple times at Olympic Trials, fell again in the 1000m heat, but he had some help.  A Russian skater was DQ’ed, leaving just three skaters competing.  There was a delay in the middle of the race for the replacement of Celski’s skate blade that was damaged in the crash.  The top two skaters advanced to the final, and Celski finished third.  American John-Henry Kruegger did advance to the next heat, which is held Saturday.  Kruegger would medal when skaters crashed in front of him on the final turn.

 

Men’s 500m

1. Wu Dajin, China

2. Hwang Dae-Heon, South Korea

3. Lim Hyo-Jun, South Korea

 

Men’s 5k Relay

1. Hungary

2. China

3. Canada

45 laps and 16 skaters on the ice at the same time leads to chaos.  One Semifinal had the Dutch, Canada, China, and the Kazakhstan team.  Kazakhstan had to overcome a fall on a bad exchange early in the race, they made up the lost time and were as high as second before another fall eliminated them.  China and Canada were able to get a gap on the Dutch team halfway through the race, but a  late bad exchange put China and Canada back out in front. In the final turn the Dutch skater cut inside on the Canadian skater and Canada fell.  Judges ruled the Dutch team committed a foul and moved the Canadian team to the next round.

The second Semi had the U.S. Team (Celski, Krueger, Hong, and Tran), against the home team South Korea, Japan, and Hungary.  Multiple times Krueger took the U.S. to the front on his pull, only to have Hungary jump back in front. With 17 laps to go Korea jumped back into the race and passed the U.S. A lap later Japan moved the U.S. Team to last.  Korea had a great exchange and retook the lead with 12 laps to go.  At that point the pace picked up, 8 second laps, and the U.S. team fell further behind.  Japan fell with a few laps to go, but the gap to second was too much for the U.S. to make up.  A third place finish eliminated the U.S. Hungary and South Korea advance to face Canada and China in the final.

 

Women’s 500m

1. Arianna Fontana, ITA (by PHOTO FINISH with Choi Min-Jeong, who was later disqualified)

2. Choi Min-Jeong, South Korea

2. Yara Van Kerkoff, Dutch

3. Kim Boutin, Canada

The end of this race was as dramatic as it gets with NBC Broadcasting favorite Choi Min-Jeong (they invested hours in interviews with her and her friends, and her beige poodle) appearing to lose by an inch after an amazing effort in the last lap.  Fonatana jumped out in front on the first turn and led the entire race.  Elise Christie of Great Britain lost a medal when she fell in the last lap; recall she was disqualified in all three of her races in Sochi.  The disqualification of Choi Min-Jeong, was a terrible phantom call.  Broadcasters viewed multiple replays and couldn’t show anything that appeared substantial enough to rip a silver medal from her hands.  Short track is often plagued by such questionable calls, it is similar to the NFL catch rules in controversy.  Maame Biney was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

 

Women’s 1000m

1.Suzanne Schulting, Dutch (amazingly this is the first Dutch short track gold medal ever)

2. Kim Boutin, Canada

3. Arianna Fontana, Italy

Fontana narrowly avoided a disqualification penalty in the final couple of laps when two South Korean skaters next to her fell. The judges called a foul on one of the South Korean skaters and determined her error took out the other South Korean skater (who was racing in her home town).

 

Women’s 1500m

1. Choi Minjeong, South Korea

2. Li Jinyu, China

3. Kim Boutin, Canada

 

Women’s Relay

1. South Korea

2. Italy

3.  Netherlands

This was one of the most bizarre races of the games, or any games for that matter.  A team not racing in the final won a medal.  Two of the four teams in the final were DQ’ed for impeding/interfering.  China and Canada were DQ’ed. That left the bronze medal to the winner of the B Final, which was the consolation winner.  No penalties were called on the home team, and they were just as deserving of a penalty as the two that were knocked out.  Imagine being in your hotel and having your phone ring to tell you that you just won a medal.