Olympics-Speed Skating-Dutch dominance to be put to the test in Beijing – Metro US

Olympics-Speed Skating-Dutch dominance to be put to the test in Beijing

ISU European Speed Skating Championships
ISU European Speed Skating Championships

TOKYO (Reuters) – One in five Olympic speed skating gold medalists are Dutch but their dominance of the sport could be tested at the Beijing Winter Games by powerful Japanese and U.S. squads as well as Chinese athletes determined to excel on home ice.

At the previous Games in Pyeongchang, the Netherlands won half of the 14 gold medals up for grabs and took home 16 medals overall.

Japan captured three golds, including those won by Nao Kodaira, the first Japanese woman to win Olympic gold in a speed skating event, as well as Nana Takagi, who won the inaugural mass start competition.

Both Kodaira and Takagi will be returning to the Olympic oval looking to take top spot again, but Kodaira will face stiff competition from America’s Erin Jackson, the top-ranked female 500m speed skater.

Dutchman Kjeld Nuis won gold in the 1,000m and 1,500m events in Pyeongchang but he will have top-ranked American Joey Mantia breathing down his neck in Beijing.

Mantia, who won gold in the mass start event in the 2021 world championships, also heads the men’s U.S. team pursuit line-up which holds the world record.

China’s Gao Tingyu will also be eyeing a medal having come in third in the 500m in Pyeongchang and will have a big advantage on home ice.

The only venue to be newly built for the Beijing Winter Games, the National Speed Skating Oval, dubbed the “Ice Ribbon”, opened in October and for many skaters it will be their first time skating on its ice.

The Speed skating events in Beijing begin on Feb. 5.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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