Dutch speedskater Kramer breaks own record

Dutch speedskater Kramer breaks own record
In 5000, he’s cold as ice
nCanada’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.

For Kramer, the gold medal is the fourth of his career. It is also his eighth total medal — the most of any male speed skater in Olympic history and the most of any Dutch male athlete at the Summer or Winter Games. The win extended his six-year unbeaten run in international competition over the distance.
In 5000, he's cold as ice
In 5000, he’s cold as ice

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.

Kramer glides to 3rd straight gold in 5000
Kramer glides to 3rd straight gold in 5000

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.

Ted-Jan Bloemen 'proud to be on the podium' for Canada and his speed skating teammates
Ted-Jan Bloemen ‘proud to be on the podium’ for Canada and his speed skating teammates

Ted-Jan Bloemen ‘proud to be on the podium’ for Canada and his speed skating teammates

“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.

The 31-year-old crossed the line at the Gangneung Oval in 6 minutes, 9.76 seconds, beating 5,000 world record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen of Canada and Norway’s Sverre Lunde Pedersen by 1.85 seconds.

“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.”

Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer raced into the record books Sunday by winning his third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the men’s 5,000 meters.Kramer, the first man to win three golds in the same speedskating event at the Winter Games, set an Olympic record of 6 minutes, 09.76 seconds, finishing ahead of Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen with Norway’s Sverre Lunde Pedersen claiming bronze.Kramer is the second male speedskater to win four Olympic medals in a single event, following in the footsteps of compatriot Bob de Jong, who got four medals in the men’s 10,000 meters.Dutch-born Bloemen, who is eligible to race for Canada through his father, switched allegiance in 2014 and is only the second Canadian to win an Olympic medal in the 5,000 meters, after William Logan won bronze in the event in 1932 Olympics at Lake Placid.

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.”

Best is yet to come for Ted-Jan Bloemen in Pyeongchang

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.

Canadian speed skater Bloemen wins silver in men’s 5000m

“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.”

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.

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.”

Winter Olympics: Dutch skater Sven Kramer clinches third straight 5000m gold

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Sven Kramer set three Olympic records after winning the 5000m with a time of 6:09.76. In additon to breaking the 5000m Olympic record, Kramer is the first man to win eight Olympic speed skating medals and the only to win Olympic gold in the same event three times.

“It’s amazing. Every four years I still have progression, and that’s nice to see,” Kramer said following the race. “I’ve won a lot and lost a lot, but this is really special for me.”

Next up for Kramer is the 10,000m on Thursday, Feb. 15. Gold in the 10,000m has elluded Kramer who has earned silver in the event consectuive Games. Kramer is also scheduled to compete in the team pursuit and mass start in PyeongChang.

Sven Kramer hopes for 3 golds, zero blunders this time

“Kramer has got a couple of other races and hopefully we can knock him off on one of them,” speed skater Peter Michael (NZE) said after the race.

Dutch speed skater Kramer wins 3rd straight Olympic gold

Following Kramer on the podium were 5000m world record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) and Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR). Bloemen and Pedersen had to be seperated by a photo finish after finishing a two one-thousdanths of a second apart after 5000m.

Dutch Speedskater Sven Kramer Wins 3rd Straight 5000m Olympic Gold

“It was a little pity that he beat me by I don’t know how many thousandths, but at the end I’m very happy for the medal,” Pedersen said to the media.

It has been a long road to PyeongChang for Bloemen. The Dutch-born Canadian skater moved to Canada after missing out on selection for the Sochi Games.

Speedskaters have medal decided by incredible photo finish

“Obviously I’d rather have won this race but, after all, being on the podium at the Olympics is amazing, and I think I’ll be really proud in a little bit of time,” Bloemen said in a post-race press conference.

Emery Lehman was the lone American entry in the event. Lehman did not have his best performance finishing in 6:31.16, good for 21st. Lehman lamented the effect his nerves had on his performance, but the 21-year old also showed optimism in improving his performance in future Games. Lehman was initially scheduled to only compete in the team pursuit, but earned a spot in the 5000m once quotas were reallocated.

“I was slower than I was happy with. If I look at the tape after the race, I will see I could have shaved off a bit of time in each lap,” Lehman said to the media. “The individual race was a goal but if one of my races had to be bad then definitely it would have to be the 5000m.”

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