2010 Winter Olympics: Speed Skating Medal Favorites
Speed skating has always been one of the most popular Winter Olympic events. Before the games begin, take a look at some of the athletes expected to win in Vancouver. The competition is fierce — because victories are won by thousandths of a second. In speed skating there are few sure things, but the following athletes have demonstrated the ability to win consistently.
Shani Davis won two medals at the 2006 Winter Olympics and is poised to repeat in Vancouver. Davis is ranked first in the world at the 1000m and 1500m. In fact, he has won every race this season at those distances. If he succeeds he will be the first person to ever win back to back Olympics at the 1000m. Davis is planning to race many different events.
Three other members of Team U.S.A. watch in Vancouver are Tucker Fredricks, Chad Hedricks, and Trevor Marsicano. A great sprinter, Tucker Fredricks is currently ranked third in the world at the 500 m distance and has won three medals on the World Cup circuit this season.
Chad Hedricks won a medal of every color at the 2006 Olympics, but then took almost a year off from the sport. He has been rebuilding after completely redesigned his training profile. He is now ranked third in the world at 1500m.
Marsicano is a relative newcomer to international competition, but he has the potential to win big. At the 2009 World Championships, Marsicano brought home four medals and proved to the world that he should be taken seriously.
Kristina Groves is Canada’s premier middle- and long-distance speed skater. This two-time Olympian won two silver medals in 2006. Since then, she has won 16 medals in World Championship races. She will be competing in many different distances and could medal in all of them. At the 2008 World Single Distance Championships, she took home a record-breaking five medals.
Christine Nesbitt is equally talented in short and middle distances. She won a silver medal at the Torino Olympics and has gone on from there to win 46 World Cup medals, five Allround Championship medals, and six Single Distance Championship medals.
Jeremy Wotherspoon is one of Canada’s best sprinters. Wotherspoon has had a long and illustrious career. Although he won more World Cup races than any other skater, he has only managed one Olympic medal—a silver at the 1998 Nagano games. He is looking for one last chance to prove he can reach Olympic gold.
Denny Morrison is a strong middle distance racer. He has been consistently in the medals in World Cup events. Morrison also holds the 1500m world record.
The Korean speed skaters have been best at the sprint distances. In the eight World Cup events so far this season, Lee Kang-Seok and Lee Kyu-Hyeok have won nine medals on the men’s side and Lee Sang-Hwa has won four medals on the women’s side. At the 1000m distance, Lee Kyu-Hyeok, Mun Jun, and Mo Tae-Bum have also won three medals at the four World Cup events this season. They should be in the medals in Vancouver.
The German women have been excelling at the longer distances. Stephanie Beckert and Daniela Anschutz-Thomas have won eight medals at the five World Cup events this season alone. Teammate Jenny Wolf has completely dominated the women’s sprint distance for three years. She finished last season 600 points ahead of her nearest competitor, and in the eight sprint races this seasons, she has taken six gold medals and two silvers. She is the best sprinter in the world right now and she will be tough to beat.
The Czech distance skater Martina Sabilkova is ranked number one in the world at the 3000m and 5000m distances. She is the reigning 5000m World Champion and the silver medalist at the 3000m distance. She is also a four time Allround medalist at the European Championships.
The Dutch men are hard to beat at the longest distances. Sven Kramer, who won his fourth consecutive Allround European Speed Skating Championship and holds the world record in the 5,000m, 10,000m and team pursuit. Kramer has accumulated 12 World Championship gold medals over his career and be tough to beat at the longer distances. His teammate, Bob de Jong, is returning to the Olympics for the third time —after having won a silver medal in Nagano and a gold medal in Turin. He is currently ranked second in the world at the same distances.
The Dutch women are better at the sprint and middle distances. Ireen Wust won the gold in the 2006 games at the 3000m distance and a bronze in the 1500m. She is strongest at the 1500m distance this season and is currently ranked 3rd in World Cup standings. Teammate Annette Gerritsen is the Nederlands’ best sprinter. She is back and hoping to improve on her performance in Turin. Annette is currently ranked 2nd in the world.
Look for Wan Beixing to excel at the women’s sprint. She is ranked second in the world and has been chasing after Jenny Wolf of Germany for three years. If Jenny shows any sign of weakness, Beixing will surely take advantage of it.