Vancouver / Canada

Christine Nesbitt from Canada has become the second speed skating lady to win a home Olympic gold. She won the 1000m in 1:16.56, with a margin of 0.02 of a second on the silver won by Annette Gerritsen (NED). In third place finished Gerritsen’s teammate Laurine van Riessen.

18 pairs skated in the ladies’ 1000m. In the second pair, 18-year-old Hege Bøkko (NOR) skated 1:17.43 and she kept that lead until the 11 th pair. Her 30.3 last lap was especially impressive. Then Jennifer Rodriguez (USA) and Anni Friesinger-Postma (GER), both 33 years old, skated. The German former medalist made a mistake after 300m and knew at that point she could never make up for the lost time. Rodriguez opened faster than Bøkko, had a decent 30.6 final lap and finished in 1:17.08. Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands, who had started too fast in the 3000m, started slowly now and finished with the fastest final lap of everyone, 29.9. It brought her to 1:17.28, 8 th place in the end. Then Dutch Laurine van Riessen skated. She looked determined, opened faster than Rodriguez with 18.08. A 28.0 and a 30.4 lap followed and the clock stopped at 1:16.72, the new leading time. With the main favourites yet to come, she wasn’t certain what this meant. Brittany Schussler (CAN) couldn’t manage to finish below 1:18. Nao Kodaira (JPN) was not good in the 500m, but now she knew what to expect and she skated freely, as she called it “With her heart and passion for skating”. She finished in 1:16.80, only 0.08 behind Van Riessen. She was paired with Beixing Wang, bronze medalist in the 500m, who said that this ice was too hard for people like her, who focus on the 500m.

In pair 16, Annette Gerritsen skated. Gerritsen opened in 17.89, her race was similar to Wang’s until 600 meters (laptime 28.0), but she managed to combine a fast opening with a fast final lap of 30.6, and took over the lead from Van Riessen, with 1:16.58.

In pair 17, Christine Nesbitt was paired with Monique Angermüller (GER). Nesbitt opened 18.36, Angermüller 18.57. The laptimes were 28.1 and 28.2; Nesbitt could really get a draft and could get away in the last lap of 30.0. Her time was 1:16.56, a very small margin with Gerritsen. Angermüller, who had been skating really well earlier this year, couldn’t keep her speed in the last lap and finished in 1:18.18. At that point, Nesbitt knew she had a medal, but she did not think her time would stand with Kristina Groves (CAN) and Margot Boer (NED) and was unhappy that her race was not as good as she had hoped.

In the final pair, Margot Boer took the lead with 18.20 and a 27.8 lap, but in her last lap she only managed 30.8 and she was overtaken in the final turn by Kristina Groves, who managed the fastest last lap of the field: 29.8. It was just not enough for her to win a medal, her 1:16.78 was fourth, 0.06 behind the bronze. “Well, on the 3000m I was on the lucky side”, she said. Van Riessen was really surprised with her bronze medal. Gerritsen was happy and the Canadians were happy.

Christine Nesbitt: “When I made my lap of honour, it felt really weird. I knew my skating wasn’t pretty. I skated a lot better 1000m races than today. I wanted to improve all the time and I didn’t race my best race today. Once I’m over that, I can be happy, but I have mixed emotions now. Maybe I can celebrate after I’ve completed the 1500m.”

Many of the skaters on the 1000m will also race the 1500m in three days. Anni Friesinger said: “Watch out: The skaters with the fastest last laps, they will be good in the 1500 meter!”