Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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Double Dutch: Netherlands' Michel Mulder Strikes Olympic Gold to Lead Another Speedskating Sweep

By PAUL NEWBERRY
|  Monday, Feb 10, 2014  |  Updated 10:42 PM PDT
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Speedskate Sweep: Dutch Strike Gold

AP

Michel Mulder from the Netherlands holds his national flag and celebrates winning Olympic gold in the men's 500-meter speedskating race in Sochi. His twin brother Ronald won the bronze, while their teammate Jan Smeekens won silver.

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Michel Mulder led another Dutch sweep at the Olympic speedskating oval Monday, edging teammate Jan Smeekens by 12-thousanths of a second, while Mulder's twin brother Ronald got the bronze.

It was the first gold medal ever in the men's 500 for the Netherlands, which became the first country ever to take the top three spots in the sport's most furious race.

Smeekens led after the first of two heats and initially thought he had earned a tie for the gold after he crossed the line. But the clock adjusted to the official time, giving Michel Mulder the gold with a total of 1 minute, 9.312 seconds — carried out to the thousandths of a second in the official results to show just how close it was.

The silver went to Smeekens in 1:09.324, while Ronald Mulder grabbed the bronze with the fastest run of the day, 34.49 in the second round to finish at 1:09.46.

Defending Olympic champion Mo Tae-bum was fourth, with the other medalists from the 2010 Winter Games taking the next two spots: 2010 bronze winner Joji Kato of Japan was fifth, while countryman and reigning silver medalist Keiichiro Nagashima was sixth.

Smeekens led after the opening heat, posting a time of 34.59 seconds to claim the coveted final race of the second round, which meant he would know the time to beat.

Turns out, he just missed.

Smeekens thought he had tied it when the scoreboard flashed the unofficial time, slapping his coach's hand and rocking his head back in delight. But the slight adjustment to the official time — common in speedskating — forced him to settle for silver.

Mulder, watching the scoreboard intently from the infield, began jumping around in delight when he realized he had the gold. And having his twin brother on the medal stand with him only made it sweeter.

The Dutch are blowing away the competition at Adler Arena, also going 1-2-3 in the men's 5,000, with Sven Kramer taking gold, and taking the top spot in the women's 3,000 with Ireen Wust.

Yes, orange is the dominant color in this Sochi Olympic stadium.

The best American hope, three-time Olympian Tucker Fredricks of Janesville, Wis., struggled through two sluggish races and finished 26th out of 40 skaters, a staggering 1.68 off the combined pace of the gold medalist.

Shani Davis of Chicago, who uses the 500 merely as a tuneup for his better events, was the top U.S. finisher in 24th. Mitch Whitmore of Waukesha, Wis., was 27th and Brian Hansen of Glenview, Ill., dropped out after finishing 33rd in the first heat. Like Davis, Hansen treats the 500 merely as a training tool for his longer races.

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