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Olympic Winter Games 2014 - Speed Skating Team Pursuit Day 2
Ladies’ Team Pursuit
In the ladies’ races, the day started with the semifinals. The Polish team and 2010 bronze medalist put together a strong race, gaining more and more ground on their Russian opponents, who skated without Lobysheva this time but with Shikhova next to Skokova and Graf.
The Polish team was composed of Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus, Natalia Czerwonka and Luiza Zlotkowska. The Polish ladies skated 3:00.60, Russia reached 3:02.08. This meant that the Polish team qualified for the A-final where the gold and silver medal will be competed for. Russia remained in the battle for bronze with the Japanese, who lost to the Netherlands.
The Dutch, this time with Leenstra instead of Van Beek together with Ter Mors and Wüst, bettered their Olympic record they set yesterday to 2:58.43. The Japanese were simply not strong enough and finished in 3:10.19.
In the D and C finals, Norway beat Korea for 7th place, Canada beat the USA in a good 3:02.03. The B-final (for bronze) was between the home favourite Russia and the 2010 silver medallists Team Japan. The Japanese team skated much faster than in the semifinals, when Ayaka Kikuchi, Misaki Oshigiri and NanaTakagi skated. This time the experienced Maki Tabata took over from Kikuchi, and the Japanese team started fast. However, the Russian team managed to keep the lap times pretty even and took the lead in the last three laps. Russia, with the home crowd behind them, finished in 2:59.73, a strong time, Japan in 3:02.56 was left empty-handed.
The Dutch ladies took the gold over Poland. This third race was also their third Olympic record bringing it down to 2:58.05. The Polish team left one of the experienced skaters, Czerwonka, out in favour of giving Katarzyna Wozniak a chance to share in the silver medal. They only reached 3:05.55, but the time didn’t matter any more.
This was the 8th gold out of a possible 12 for the Netherlands a new record.
Olga Graf, bronze, commented on the success of the ladies who could medal, and the men who could not: “There is a proverb: Russian ladies can stop the fire and stop a running horse. I like that proverb.”
And on their chance to have won silver had they only skated with the right team in the Semifinals: “Decision have been made for the best. We cannot change it. But a bronze is better than nothing. I have two bronzes now, one is for my dad, one is for my husband and myself.”
Yekaterina Lobysheva: “At the beginning we really hoped for first or second and thought we really could compete against the Dutch team, but we now realise third place is quite good.”
Luiza Zlotkowska, silver: “In Vancouver we had our start at international level. That opened doors for us. From that time we had some interest and many things happened, a child was born to one of us... Two years ago in the world championships we also won bronze and then last year silver. It showed us we are a lot stronger now. The 1500m is the most similar race to the Team Pursuit and we have three Polish ladies in the top-15, that made us believe in our strength.”
Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus: “I always wanted to come back after my child was born. My dream was to skate in Sochi. This is my best Olympics ever.”
Natalia Czerwonka: “This is the fourth Olympic Games for her (K. B-C), so we learned from her, how to skate, how to believe in ourselves. I’m happy to have her experience.”
Ireen Wüst, gold: “We are a real team now. Especially in Vancouver, we disappointed. But after eight years, we finally did it.” And about being the most successful Dutch athlete in the Olympic Winter Games: “It’s an incredible feeling and I can’t really believe it yet. In these Olympics alone I have five medals. It’s a little bit crazy.”
Jorien ter Mors: “It was not necessary to skate that fast (as to break the world record as well), but we probably could have gone faster if necessary.”
Marrit Leenstra (the only member of the team who did not get an individual 1500m medal): “It is great to be part of the team with a gold medal.”
Lotte van Beek: “I won one bronze medal. The benefit of winning a team medal is that you can celebrate together.”