Speed skating: Double Dutch delight in team pursuits

Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:33pm EST
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By Patrick Johnston

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The flying Dutch men and women wrapped up the Sochi speed skating competition by cruising to both Olympic team pursuit titles on Saturday.

The two golds, both won in Olympic record times, took the Dutch tally to eight out of a possible 12 at the Adler Arena, which included four medal sweeps in the 10 individual events.

It was a show of power like no other at a Winter Olympics.

The Soviet Union won six golds in the sport at the 1960 Games, while South Korea matched the half dozen in short track at the 2006 Turin Games.

The men's trio of 5,000 meters champion Sven Kramer, Jan Blokhuijsen and Koen Verweij traded the lead early with the Koreans in the final, where the teams start on opposite sides of the oval and the winners are the first team to have all three athletes complete the eight-lap distance.

But the Koreans could not maintain the electric pace as the Dutch went on to win in an Olympic record time of three minutes 37.71 seconds, three seconds ahead of the Asian skaters.

"This was an amazing race, the best we ever skated, the three of us," Blokhuijsen told reporters.

"We sacrificed our individual programs the last four years to do this. It is a great feeling. It is fantastic to race so fast in the Olympic final."   Continued...

The team from the Netherlands, (L-R) Sven Kramer, Jan Blokhuijsen and Koen Verweij celebrate after competing in the men's speed skating team pursuit Gold-medal final during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Marko Djurica