Vancouver / Canada

In the 10,000m, Seung-Hoon Lee (KOR) took the gold medal (his second this Olympics after the silver he won in the 5000m). Ivan Skobrev (RUS) won silver, Bob de Jong (NED) bronze. The time 12:58.55 was 0.37 below the former Olympic record. Sven Kramer (NED) skated 12:54.50 but was disqualified due to an incorrect lane change.

8 pairs competed.  Pair 5 was the first with real excitement. Seung-Hoon Lee, skated much faster than his pb of 13:21.04. His lap times were between 30.4 and 31.5, he skated evenly and set a new Korean record as well as an Olympic record with 12:58.55. In the final lap he managed to overtake his pair mate. It was the first NR in speed skating these Olympics.

In the next pair there was another one, for France, when Alexis Contin took 13.6 second off his personal best time and finished in 13:12.13. In the end, that was good for fourth place.

In pair 7 Håvard Bøkko (NOR, bronze in 1500m) was paired with 2006 Champion Bob de Jong. They didn’t start as fast as hoped. De Jong said afterwards: “From the start, I didn’t skate comfortably. After 10 laps, I told myself ‘come on, fight!’ I am really excited I finally had a good fight, overtook my pair mate and am happy I took a medal.” He managed to finish with 6 laps below 31 and posted 13:06.75, taking over the second position.

In the final race, Sven Kramer was paired with Ivan Skobrev, earlier this Olympic they had won gold and bronze respectively in the 5000m and were expected to medal in the double distance as well.

Kramer (age 23) is the world record holder and has the habit of winning all his 10,000m races.

He showed today that he was the fastest skater. “None of my laps were above 31.0 If they were, I could easily bring my laps back to 30.7”, he said, “it was possibly my best 10,000m ever.” The last four laps were above 31. At that point he had realized that he might have made a mistake. He had. After 6500 meters, he came from the inner lane and intended to go into the outer. When he saw his coach indicate that he had to go into the inner lane, he had a split second to make a decision: Was he right, or was his coach? He trusted his coach and moved into the inner turn. In doing so, he jumped over a cone and wasn’t sure if that might cost him a disqualification. He continued skating strongly, but heard after the race that he was indeed disqualified and should have taken the other lane. Ivan Skobrev, on his way to what he thought was a bronze medal, saw in the final lap that Kramer was in the same lane as he was and realized that the Dutchman had made a mistake.

Kramer: “I am not in the habit of blaming someone else. I was on my way to the right decision, and changed my decision because of my coach. Still, in the end I am responsible for my own racing.”

Bob de Jong: “I now got all colours of medal in 3 different Olympics (he got silver in 98), this is my medal. Of course, I don’t want it like this. It’s a nightmare. I know other great skaters have made the same mistake in the past. I feel sorry for Sven. He lost a gold race.”

Ivan Skobrev: “Sven is an icon of speed skating. It was his gold. It is good, he will work harder and be a great skater in Sochi. I can’t say I’m happy. He was better than we. The Korean is a surprise (... ) if someone from short track is faster than I, I have to try to be faster. We certainly can learn from short track.”

Seung-Hoon Lee: “I will continue to train short track too and like to compete, but for the next Olympics I better stay in long track. I know I was lucky, Kramer would have been the best and I have to make lots of improvements.”