Team USA notches win No. 1: It took the U.S. women’s hockey team a while to get in the swing of things, but they eventually woke up in force and dispatched Finland. The U.S. allowed a sloppy goal with just 5.8 seconds left in the first period, but goals from Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Kendall Coyne in the second put the Americans on top. An empty-netter at the end of the third period put it away, giving Team USA a 3-1 win. Here’s a closer look at Coyne, who might be one of half of sports’ newest power couple.
Sven Kramer three-peats: Sven Kramer continued his run of dominance in the 5,000m speed skate event, winning his third straight gold medal in the event. Kramer notched an Olympic record of 6:09.76 to win his fourth gold medal and eighth medal overall. That total makes him the most decorated male speed skater in Olympic history, and he can soon add to his legacy with the 10,000m and team pursuit events coming up.
Sven Kramer wins third straight Olympic gold in 5000 meters
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Ted-Jan Bloemen ‘proud to be on the podium’ for Canada and his speed skating teammates
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Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloeman skates to a silver medal in men’s 5,000 metres at the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Leah Hennel / Postmedia Network)
Speed skater Ted-Jan Bloemen left his country for all of this: the Olympic Games appearance, the silver medal, the security and happiness he has always felt in Calgary, inside and outside the oval.
Yes, the sacrifice was huge, leaving family and friends behind in Netherlands, even at age 27. But the brick wall was there too, and he could neither skate around nor through it into a secure place on the powerhouse Dutch national team. He could never have done for them what he did for himself and for Canada in the 5,000 metres here on Sunday.
He fought back from a growing mid-race deficit to beat Norway’s Sverre Lunde Pedersen by two-thousandths of a second in a photo finish, in the third last pairing, then watched as the beastly Dutchman Sven Kramer did Sven Kramer things, grinding the necessary gears late in the game to win by a comfortable 1.85-second margin, in Olympic record time of 6:09.76, to top the 22-skater field.
Netherlands’ Sven Kramer wins 3rd straight Olympic gold in 5000 meters
“I focused on the things I wanted to focus on when the race got hard,” Bloemen said. “You know, that perfect race where you get into a flow and just fly to the finish, it doesn’t always happen and it didn’t happen today but I made the most out of it and I got everything out of myself that I had. I’m a little bit disappointed that I didn’t have more to give today but overall I am really happy and really proud to be on the podium.”
He’s only the second Canadian man to win an Olympic medal at this distance, after William Logan who took bronze in 1932.
It was Kramer’s third Olympic gold at this distance for Netherlands, fourth gold and eighth Games medal overall. Remarkable, really. Bloemen, an Olympic rookie, was a thoroughly happy silver medallist who sees the bauble more as a reward for his team, and less justification for the move to Canada in 2014.
“I chose a different path and it all turned out better than I could have hoped. It was a hard decision but in the end it was also easy because I always felt at home right from the start because I had such great people around me.”
His father, Gerhard, was born in New Brunswick, and when the obstacles to success and happiness on ice were threatening to block his career path, Ted-Jan played that card. He has been in Calgary since 2014, married his girlfriend Marlinde Kraaijeveld, and has been happy since the day he set foot on Canadian soil.
Grateful as well to coach Bart Schouten, who saw something in him and welcomed him with open arms. Schouten said he didn’t want to take much credit, that it was mostly Bloemen and the way he grew up so quickly in a comfortable environment. But the pupil was wise enough to honour the teacher.
“You know, a lot. Let’s get that out first,” said Bloemen, when asked how much credit Schouten should receive. “The thing is for me it’s really hard to point out where my progression the last couple years has been coming from because everything changed, you know. Bart is the architect of our program. He’s not only our coach but he makes sure we’re also behaving well outside of the training, that we’re happy and doing the right things 24-7.”
Bloemen freely admits that he wasn’t ready as a younger man for the kind of commitment to his craft that he is thrilled to make every day now. Everything he does is focused on making him faster, more durable.
“I have for sure matured a lot over the years. When I was younger I wasn’t your typical athlete. I had a lot of trouble with the discipline of just living in the right way for your sport, giving up all the things for it.
And even so, sometimes the race doesn’t go your way, the strength isn’t there. He struggled mightily in the middle of Sunday’s battle, and the coach needed to do something about it.
“After five or six laps I think he really lost his skating position and he wasn’t skating as well as he could have,” said Schouten, who was ably assisted on the oval by Marcel Lacroix. “We told him to fight. We really wanted to wake him up because it looked like he needed some help to respond. In the end he responded really well, with the last two laps of (29.5 seconds) and (29.4). That’s where he beat Pedersen on the line. That was obviously a classic finish.”
With a growing lead through the heart of the race, Pedersen thought he had it in the bag. To lose it by two-thousandths of a second was a shock.
“That was surprising,” he said of Bloemen’s finishing kick. “I thought he was tired, too tired to skate fast at the end, but he came back. That was impressive.”
Winter Olympics: Dutch skater Sven Kramer clinches third straight 5000m gold
Bloemen simply made the best of a race he was losing by throwing everything he had into the final two laps. He drew on the training base he’d established and the necessary rest he had taken in the last couple of days to get back into form.
“I was fit today. It was a strong race obviously, otherwise you can’t get a silver medal. So we made it in time. But that last little bit of flow and rhythm that I’m looking for in a long distance race is something that I have to find in the next couple of days.”That’s when he and Kramer will go at it again in the 10,000 metres. They were never teammates in The Netherlands, but a long-running World Cup rivalry has established a healthy mutual respect.
Dutchman Kramer claims third straight 5000m gold
Though they are both 31, Kramer has the much finer resume. Bloemen is building his as fast as he can. He has won 16 World Cup medals since making the jump to Canada, he broke the 10,000-metre world record in 2015, and the 5,000-metre mark fell earlier this season. That, too, wouldn’t have happened back home.
“I really felt that I hit a dead end in Holland and I wasn’t going to get any better there,” Bloemen said earlier this season. “So I wanted to do something completely different or just quit speed skating and I didn’t want to do that. I love it so much still. All I cared about was skating fast. I didn’t have any concerns because I wasn’t going to skate fast in Holland. It could only get better.”
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