Zhang's 1,000m win gets China first long track goldWüst takes second, Boer third; Richardson, Bowe fail to medal for USA
The winner of the ladies 1,000-meter speed skating competition was Hong Zhang, who gave China its seventh medal in speed skating history and its first gold. Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands, who won gold in the 3,000 meters, finished in second place, and Dutch skater Margot Boer had her second bronze this week. It was the 12th medal for the Dutch, which is a new Olympic Winter Games record for the nation: Dutch athletes won 11 medals at Nagano in 1998.
Zhang, skating in the seventh pairing, hit the opening stretch in 17.94, followed that with a 27.09 lap and then finished with a 28.99 lap to finish in 1:14.02. It was a new track record by 1.42 seconds.
"I'm so glad to win," Zhang said. "It was a very great achievement for me because China has been waiting for this gold medal for 12 years. The gold wasn't the goal; I just wanted to perform as best as I could."
Zhang had to wait through multiple pairings before officially being declared the winner.
"I don't think anybody could have understood how I felt waiting," she added.
Wüst, who skated with American Brittany Bowe (the world record-holder), opened with a slower 18.22 stretch, but her strength carried toward the end of the race. Wüst made the next lap in 27.5 and then closed with a strong 28.9 lap to finish second in 1:14.69.
"I was shocked about the amazing performance of Zhang, but it is not a big surprise," Wüst said. "In the 500 meters she did 26.8. I saw her time before the ice preparation and thought this was a tough one.
"It is silver with a gold lining," she added. "I didn't have this color in my collection yet."
Boer, who was paired with Russia's Olga Fatkulina, rode a strong final lap to finish third in 1:14.90.
"It was my best race," Boer said. "I couldn't go better, my fastest ever on lowland. ... I didn't think the podium was possible, but I really like going back to the Medal Plaza; that was so great.
"The winning time was a really amazing time," she continued. "I know Hong Zhang, and she deserves it if she skates so fast. It is inspiring and beautiful to watch her, how sideways and how powerful her push is."
American Heather Richardson, who was among the favorites, finished seventh.
"I have not too much to complain about," Richardson said. "I gave it my best. I was a second faster than last season. Brittany and I were one and two going into the race, but the other countries were really fast. Obviously, it is disappointing."
"I don't think anything went wrong," said Bowe, who wound up eighth. "The three ladies on the podium did some really good times. I thought I was on a great one, but I just didn't go fast enough. I lost quite a bit in the last lap."
Team USA's Sugar Todd ended up in 32nd place.
"You can't have all good races," Todd said. "Technically, I did not skate very well. At least I can get another shot in four years."
The fourth American, Kelly Gunther, was 33rd.