Rough day for favorites Kramer, Austrians

Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:42pm EST
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By Brian Rhoads

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Dutch champion speed skater Sven Kramer, world record holder and red-hot gold medal favorite, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in one of the most dramatic moments of the Vancouver Olympics on Tuesday.

Kramer celebrated his apparent clear victory in the 10,000 meters but within seconds of crossing the line he threw his glasses down in fury and kicked at the track in frustration after being told he had been disqualified for a lane violation.

The day was shaping up as a rough one for favorites with big disappointment too for the once-dominant Alpine skiers of Austria who missed out on medals again on the Whistler slopes.

Later, Canada will hold its breath when its ice hockey team take on Germany in a do-or-die encounter which could send them spinning out of the tournament and send the nation into mourning.

The drama at the Richmond Olympic Oval speed skating rink will take some matching, though, even by the under-pressure Canadian hockey players.

Kramer, who earlier in the Games cruised to the 5,000m gold, sat despondent on a bench in the infield, his head down and elbows on his knees after the error came to light.

"I am furious," Kramer told reporters about the gaffe, where an apparent miscommunication with his coach caused him to change lanes at the wrong time.

"It's a matter of concentration. Not a concentration failure on my side.   Continued...

<p>Sven Kramer of the Netherlands reacts after competing in the men's 10000 metres speed skating race at the Richmond Olympic Oval during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 23, 2010. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen</p>