Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 Olympics Preview: Speed Skating

Men and Women both compete in:
Team Pursuit

Women compete in a 3000m race
Men compete in a 10,000m race


Strap on the skates and race. While "Long Track" Speed Skating might not have the crashes or the head-to-head battles of Short Track, world records tend to be broken in Speed Skating almost every year.


Dutch skaters with their incredible combination of length and power have traditionally dominated the event, along with Norwegian skaters. The US actually has the most Gold Medals (29) of any nation despite having 15 fewer total medals than the Netherlands and 13 fewer than Norway. Japan and South Korea have been gaining momentum lately. South Korea's contingent features 3 men and 1 woman with Olympic medals. The Netherlands and Canada have medalled in both Team Pursuit competitions since the event was added in 2006. On the Women's side, Czech Martina Sablikova and Germany's Stephanie Beckert won Gold and Silver in both the 3000 and 5000 respectively in Vancouver and both return in Sochi. German women have won both Team Pursuit Golds.

US Hopefuls

Shani Davis won Gold in the 1000 and Silver in the 1500 the last two Olympics. He is currently the top-ranked skater in the world at both distances and could become the most accomplished Speed Skater in US Olympic History (he needs 1 medal to tie Eric Heiden for the most medals by an American man and 2 medals to tie Bonnie Blair for the most medals by any American). Davis will compete in the 500m, 1000m, 1500m and Team Pursuit. The US Women were shut out of medals in Vancouver and Heather Richardson has the best opportunity amongst the women to earn a medal.


The success of Korean and Japanese skaters on Short Track has begun to carry over into the longer distances. Look for them to make a statement in the shorter events. Never sleep on skaters from Norway or the Netherlands. Shani Davis will pick up at least one medal, but I'm not sure if he can get the 3 he needs to become the only American Speed Skater to win 7 medals. If he gets his third, it will be from the Team Pursuit.

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