Netherlands still perfect in speedskating at Olympics

Gold medallist Jorien ter Mors of The Netherlands celebrates on the podium after the women's 1,000 meters speedskating race at the Gangneung Oval at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands posted the fastest time any woman has ever skated at sea level over 1,000 meters.

JEONGSEON, South Korea — Norway’s Attacking Vikings stole the show at the Olympics men’s downhill on Thursday.

Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud posted fast early times and then watched as 48 more skiers attempted but failed to top them.

“It’s obviously cool to get the gold,” Svindal said. “But when you cross the finish line and see you’ve had a good race, you don’t think too much about the history books.”


Svindal, the seventh skier to go, set an early benchmark on the Jeongseon course, and it held up for the gold medal. Two skiers later, his teammate Jansrud proved to be the strongest challenger but he was .12 seconds off the pace and took silver. Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, the World Cup leader, took bronze, .18 behind for his first Olympic medal.

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After being postponed because of high winds on Sunday, conditions were near-perfect for the start of the downhill on Thursday, with bright blue skies and calm air. But as the race progressed, some wind developed, and US skier Jared Goldberg said that slowed the skiers who were later in the start order and faced some headwind.

US coach Johno McBride said if the race was run a half-hour earlier, as originally scheduled, things might have been more favorable for the starters after No. 10. The four US starters – Bryce Bennett, Goldberg, Wiley Maple, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle – all started later and were more than a second behind the leader. Bennett started 14th and finished 16th, 1.97 seconds off the pace.

“I think unfortunately that was a bit of a game-changer for the racers afterwards,” McBride said. “I was really proud with the way our guys skied. Just unfortunately I think [the wind] was a factor.”

Goldberg was 20th, Cochran-Siegle 23rd, and Maple was 30th.


Bennett said the Norwegians have set the gold standard all season on the World Cup circuit, and Thursday’s outcome was no surprise.

“They just have all their ducks in a row, and it shows,” Bennett said.

Women’s speedskating — Jorien Ter Mors won the gold medal Wednesday in the 1,000 meters in Gangneung, South Korea, and kept the Netherlands perfect in speedskating at the PyeongChang Games with five wins in five races.

She punched the air after crossing the line, shouting ‘‘yes’’ between gritted teeth as she handily beat Brittany Bowe in the head-to-head pairing.

Nao Kodaira and Miho Takagi, expecting to finish 1-2 for Japan, had to settle for 2-3 behind ter Mors after both slumped over the last half-lap.


It has been all orange on the oval so far, and the Netherlands is favored to add a sixth gold on Thursday when Sven Kramer goes for another Olympic title in the 10,000.

Overall, the Dutch have won nine of 15 medals in long-track speedskating and also have two silvers on the short track, putting the nation with no mountains and little snow in second place in the overall medal standings at the Winter Games.

Men’s Nordic combined — Germany’s Eric Frenzel, fifth after the ski jumping stage, started 38 seconds off the leader and surged ahead of Akito Watabe on the last uphill of the 10-kilometer cross-country race to defend his title in the normal hill event.

‘‘I felt from the get-go that I could get the gold,’’ Frenzel said. ‘‘I got in a good group and knew how to keep a check on the others, so I was very confident and am very happy with this result.’’

With a little more than 1 kilometer remaining, it looked like Watabe might give Japan its first gold of the Games. But Frenzel powered ahead of the World Cup leader on the hill for Germany’s sixth gold in PyeongChang.

Watabe finished 4.8 seconds behind for the silver, while Lukas Klapfer of Austria took the bronze.

‘‘Just before the last hill, I thought I had a shot at gold,’’ Watabe said. ‘‘But when Eric started to climb the hill like that I knew I wasn’t going to get it.’’

Men’s doubles luge — Just about everyone in the international luge world refers to the German team of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt as ‘‘the Tobys,’’ for obvious reasons.

Call them two-time Olympic champions now, too.

As expected, a German team won the doubles luge title at PyeongChang. As few expected, it was Wendl and Arlt — the second-best team in the world all season, yet the team that stood highest on the Olympic medal podium. They held off Austria’s Peter Penz and Georg Fischler by 0.088 seconds for a second straight gold medal.

‘‘I can’t describe the words that I’m feeling, what the feeling is inside,’’ Arlt said. ‘‘We’re again Olympic champions and so happy, it’s just amazing.’’

Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, the heavy Olympic favorites after dominating the World Cup circuit this season, only managed a bronze.

‘‘The Tobys have a history of holding onto their speed, keeping it kind of in waiting until it’s time to perform,’’ USA Luge’s Matt Mortensen said. ‘‘I don’t think that Toni and Sascha had a bad competition. I just think the Tobys probably came with a better setup for today.’’

Wendl and Arlt are the first German team to win two straight doubles golds since Hans Rinn and Norbert Hahn in 1976 and 1980. They had the fastest time in each of the two runs, plus set both the start record and the track record.

It was a disappointing night for the Americans, who haven’t medaled in doubles since taking silver and bronze in both 1998 and 2002.

But a young team offered plenty of hope for the future.

Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk — who got into the Olympics by 0.062 seconds, the difference between their sled and the one of US teammates Jake Hyrns and Anthony Espinoza at the deciding World Cup race in Lake Placid, N.Y., in December — were eighth in their Olympic debut.

‘‘Best day at work ever,’’ Krewson said.

Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman were 10th.