Belgium, Netherlands Take Home Gold In Speedskating Finale

Feb 19, 2022, 4:07 AM | Updated: 4:08 am
Irene Schouten of Team Netherlands crosses the finish line to win the Gold medal ahead of Ivanie Bl...
Irene Schouten of Team Netherlands crosses the finish line to win the Gold medal ahead of Ivanie Blondin of Team Canada and Francesca Lollobrigida of Team Italy during the Women's Mass Start Final on day fifteen of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Speed Skating Oval on February 19, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

BEIJING (AP) — Irene Schouten of the Netherlands captured her third gold medal of the Beijing Olympics, chasing down Canada’s Ivanie Blondin to win the women’s mass start on Saturday.

In the final speedskating event of the Winter Games, Schouten established herself as the biggest star at the Ice Ribbon with a furious push to line to overtake Blondin.

Blondin grabbed the lead on the backstraight, but Schouten roared back with an all-out sprint to the finish line to win by 0.06 seconds.

Schouten let out a scream as she crossed the stripe, celebrating another gold after her victories in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. In a nifty bookend, she won the first and last speedskating events in Beijing, two weeks apart.

Bart Swings of Belgium won the men’s mass start on a frustrating final day at the oval for the American team.

Joey Mantia was edged out by the tip of a blade for the bronze medal in the men’s race. The 36-year-old Floridian complained that he was grabbed by another skater, costing him his second medal of the Beijing Games.

Mia Manganello Kilburg matched Mantia with a fourth-place showing in the women’s race, though she was a bit farther back.

Blondin settled for the silver, adding to the gold she won as part of team pursuit. The bronze went to Italy’s Francesca Lollobrigida, her second medal of the Olympics after claiming a silver in the 3,000.

Swings improved on the silver he won at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in the frenetic event — the only individual speedskating race with head-to-head competition instead of racing against the clock.

South Korea grabbed the other men’s medals. Chung Jae Won took the silver and defending Olympic champion Lee Seung Hoon settled for bronze this time.

Mantia, a three-time world champion, initially posted the same time as Lee. But the replay showed the tip of the South Korean’s skate crossed the line just ahead of Mantia’s blade, giving him the bronze by 0.001 seconds.

The Netherlands again topped the speedskating medal table, finishing with six golds and 12 medals overall. The United States finished with three medals, its best showing since 2010.

The mass start races marked the Olympic farewells for two speedskating greats.

Sven Kramer of the Netherlands ranked last in the men’s final, pushing the pace early on but dropping back when the contenders turned on the speed at the end of the 16-lap race.

The 35-year-old Dutch star finished his Olympic career with a total of nine medals, including four golds.

Claudia Pechstein of Germany made the women’s final just three days before her 50th birthday. She took points in one of the interval sprints and finished ninth.

Pechstein was competing in her eighth Olympics, the most ever by a female Winter Olympic athlete. She won five golds and nine medals in a career that also included a doping ban she continues to dispute.


The Associated Press

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Belgium, Netherlands Take Home Gold In Speedskating Finale