Dutch complete speed skating domination with two more wins

Feb. 22, 2014 at 10:47 AM
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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Irene Wust completed a historic Olympic showing by Dutch speed skaters Saturday, leading the Netherlands to a gold medal in the women's team pursuit.

The Dutch men also won their team pursuit race, giving the Netherlands eight speed skating golds and 23 medals overall at the Sochi Olympics.

Wust won her fifth medal at these Games, more than anybody else, and the Netherlands shattered the Winter Olympics record for the most medals by one nation in one sport.

The incredible showing by the Dutch team caused the coach of the squad, Jilert Anema, to criticize the focus of American sports. The United States did not win a single speed skating medal this year and its best showing in an individual race was a seventh-place finish.

"You have a lot of attention for foolish sport, like American football," Anema said in an interview aired by CNBC. "You waste a lot of talent, athletic talent, in a sport where it's meant to kill each other, to injure each other."

Wust helped power the Dutch women to a victory in the finals over Poland with an Olympic record time of 2:58.05. Poland finished more than seven seconds behind. Marrit Leenstra and Jorien ter Mors joined Wust on the winning team.

Russia won the bronze medal with a three-second decision over Japan.

In the men's race, Jan Blokhuijsen, Sven Kramer and Koen Verweij brought the Netherlands the gold medal. They also set an Olympic record of 3:37.71. That threesome defeated South Korea in the finals by 3.14 seconds.

In the pursuit, three skaters from each team line up on opposite sides of the oval. The men skate 16 laps and the women skate 12 and if one team catches the other during the course of the event the race is over. That seldom happens, especially at the world class level, and if it does not the team that finishes the required number of laps first is the winner.

Eight countries are seeded into the quarterfinals.

The 23 medals won by the Netherlands were 10 more than any nation had ever won in speed skating at one Olympics and nine more than any country had won in any of the sports at the Winter Games. Austrian alpine skiers won 14 medals in Turin eight years ago.

Although the Dutch showing in speed skating has been amazing, the Netherlands will wind up winning just one other medal in all the other sports at the Sochi Games.

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