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Netherlands sweeps podium in women's 1,500m speed skating

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CBC
2/16/2014 11:02:52 AM
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The Netherlands is now the single greatest speed skating team at an Olympic Games after sweeping the women's 1,500-metre race at the Adler Arena Skating Center in Sochi.

Jorien ter Mors set an Olympic-record time of one minute 53.51 seconds to win her first Olympic gold medal.

Ter Mors just missed a short track medal Saturday, finishing fourth in the 1,500m.

"It is bizarre that I can do this," said Ter Mors, who had to wait nearly an hour to know the gold was assured after skating in the ninth of 18 pairings.

Veteran Ireen Wust failed to defend her Olympic title but still managed to win silver in 1:54.09. Wust now has six Olympic medals, including three gold and a victory in the women's 3000m in Sochi.

"I admit I'm a bit ticked," Wust said. "I had [a gold medal] in me. Maybe I was too keen, too concerned about lap times. You have got to be loose out there on the ice, and then the lap times will come. But I don't begrudge Jorien the gold."

Lotte van Beek made it a 1-2-3 Dutch finish with a time of 1:54.54.

The Dutch team actually had the top-four skaters as Marrit Leenstra finished with a time of 1:56.40.

The Netherlands has dominated the proceedings, taking five gold and 16 medals so far in only eight races, eclipsing the record set by East Germany in the 1988 Games in Calgary.

It also as swept events in the men's 500 and 5,000m in Sochi.

No Canadian women were able to crack the top 10. Regina's Kali Christ placed 16th in 1:53.51. Christine Nesbitt, of London, Ont., finished 17th with a time of 1:58.67, Winnipeg's Brittany Schussler was 26th in 2:00.65, while Brianne Tutt of Calgary, ended up 35th in 2:03.69.

It was another disappointing event for Nesbitt, who finished ninth in the 1,000m — her signature event — on Thursday. Nesbitt won gold in that distance at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She was the 1,500m world champion in 2012, and dominated the World Cup circuit two years ago.

But injuries, a battle with coeliac disease and admittedly feeling the pressure of defending Olympic gold have all contributed to Nesbitt's dismal season, where she failed to medal in any of the World Cup events.

"I think one of the hardest things about winning is that because you've done it once people expect you do it again and again and again," said Kristina Groves, CBC Sports speed skating analyst and four-time Olympic medallist.

"I think they forget how hard it is to do that. Nesbitt has had some struggles with injuries, with coeliac disease and that takes a toll over time. But I think she should be proud of this race. I know she was probably expected more but she's been through so much this season.

"I thought she looked solid, just a little slow tempo toward the end. I think she should be proud of herself for coming here and giving herself the best chance she possibly could to win a medal for Canada."

Jorien ter Mors (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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