- Sochi, Russia
In the third Speed Skating Men’s distance which was the 1000m, Stefan Groothuis (NED) won in 1:08.39, a new track record. Denny Morrison (CAN) got silver in 1:08.43 and Michel Mulder, the 500m champion, grabbed bronze in 1:08.74, thus becoming the first multi-medalist at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Two-time Olympic champion Shani Davis (USA) had to settle for eighth place.
In the first half of the competition, Mark Tuitert (NED), 1500m 2010 Olympic champion was fastest, in 1:09.29, but he eventually ranked 10th. Then came Samuel Schwarz (GER) who executed his best race ever, opening 16.56, lap of 25.0, then a 27.2 lap towards 1:08.89, the first sub-1:09 on this rink. In pair 16, just before the 8 skaters that were in the best start group, Groothuis raced, paired with Nico Ihle (GER). Ihle, who had also been 8th in the 500m, started with a fast 16.38, Groothuis with 16.64. Both had a 25.1 lap with Ihle still in the lead and Groothuis a little slower than Schwarz had been. But then Groothuis caught up with 26.6 last lap and finished in 1:08.39, a track record half a second faster than Schwarz’s. Ihle finished in 1:08.86, minimally faster than his team mate. Then Michel Mulder and Denny Morrison skated. The opening of Mulder was that of a 500m champion: 16.24, Morrison had the same opening and passing time as Groothuis, gaining 0.01 there on him, but losing again 0.05 in the final lap, to 1:08.43. Then Shani Davis (USA) opened with the same as the top skaters, but then he lost 0.4 in the first lap and another 0.4 in the second lap, reaching 1:09.12. His pair mate Koen Verweij (NED) managed to pass him in the last lap, with the fastest lap in the field, 26.56, reaching 1:09.09. The two main favorites did not manage to finish on the podium. Although Brian Hansen (USA) medaled several times this season, he did not do better than Davis, finishing right behind him in 1:09.21. Tae Bum Mo (KOR) the reigning Olympic silver medalist dropped below Tuitert. The only skater remaining who could beat Groothuis was the world champion Denis Kuzin (KAZ) or his pair mate could get between him and gold. Kuzin won his pair in 1:09.10 but finished 7th behind Verweij.
Denis Kuzin: “It was psychological, I was nervous. I really wanted to skate well and I did not. The Dutch athletes have incredible strong results. But it is important that I first learn to beat myself before I can ever beat the Dutch.”
Samuel Schwarz, fifth: “I’m proud of myself. I did everything I wanted to do and executed it well. I cannot expect any more than this, it was 100 percent. But I am also irritated, that my best was not enough for a medal. The cream on the cake is lacking.”
Morrison had been a favorite in the two previous Olympics, but finished 19th and 13th. He said to the press: “This is the first time I’m actually satisfied with my race. I knew deep down it was a good race, even if it should not bring me a medal.” On Tuesday team mate Gilmore JUNIO decided to pull out of the 1000m, offering MORRISON his spot in the competition. Canadian National Olympic Committee press attaché Antonio FAIOLA (CAN) explained the decision was made because Morrison had the better chance of winning a medal. He did not let his team down "I'm pretty good friends with all my teammates actually, but now he (JUNIO) is probably my best friend. I think I probably owe him something," said MORRISON at a press conference after the competition. Gilmore Junio commented: “It was a no-brainer for me. It was an easy decision when the coaches asked me. My parents have taught me to consider the greater good rather than selfish needs. I am almost speechless that things worked out. I couldn’t be happier if I skated myself.”
Michel Mulder, bronze: “I wanted to give it all the energy I had. Winning bronze was a bonus, but it is not at all comparable with winning gold. In my race with Morrison he came really quick in the corner, and I tried to get him in the last corner, but that did not work.”
Stefan Groothuis, gold: “I’ve never medaled in Olympics before, but now I get a medal, it is gold. In Torino I was starting to become a world class skater and an outsider for the medals, had a strong race, the fastest lap, but ruined it in the last corner. In Vancouver it was really dramatic, because I got a fever three weeks before, and that lasted a week. For my Olympics, it was disastrous. I also race the 1500, so maybe something more beautiful is on the way.”
Preview ladies 1000m
Tomorrow, the ladies will skate the 1000m. Among the favorites is Ireen Wüst (NED), winner of the 3000m. She will race in the pre-last pair, with Brittany Bowe (USA). In the final pair Lotte van Beek (NED) faces Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR), the 500m champion. Also 500m-silver winner and world champion on the 1000m Olga Fatkulina (RUS) is a strong candidate for gold, as well as Heather Richardson (USA). Russian skaters all perform strongly at home and therefore Julia Skokova and Yekaterina Shikhova should not be overlooked. Other contenders are Margot Boer (NED), Marrit Leenstra (NED) or Hong Zhang (CHN).