Team USA finishes out of medals in team pursuitsAmerican men fall to Canadians; Ladies have misfortune of facing Dutch
Men's team pursuit
The team pursuit races started Friday at the Adler Arena with a replay of the 2010 Olympic final, as again, the men from Canada beat the U.S. team. Shani Davis, Brian Hansen and Jonathan Kuck finished in a disappointing time -- only France was slower, and its best skater has a serious thyroid disease. Both teams will skate the D Final on Saturday. France lost to the Dutch team, which did not have to race fast but saved its energy for the semifinals.
"It was pretty rough," Davis said. "It was very hard to get something accomplished with only the team pursuit left. We should have done that in individual races. ... Today, we just weren't good enough.
"We saw the draw," he continued. "It looked pretty good and pretty comparable on paper with the stats, but we just had some miscommunication during the race. We were ahead for a bit, then we were behind, and the next thing I noticed, we were two seconds behind; then I got really tired, and it was like, 'Oh my God,' and then the race was over."
The Korean team, skating in a track-record time that was less than a second above the Olympic record time, beat Russia, and the Polish team beat Norway. Norway was in the lead for much of the race, but in the last three laps, the Polish team was better.
Later in the semifinals, Olympic champion Canada went up against what had been the fastest of the day, Korea. Korea outpaced Canada, though at a slower rate than before.
Poland faced the Netherlands and knew from the start that it would be hard, if not impossible, to beat them, and therefore saved some energy for Saturday, so that a medal is still a possibility. This time, the Dutch bettered the track record that the Koreans set in the heats, finishing in 3:40.79. The Dutch and the Korean team will skate the A Final to decide silver and gold, and the Polish and Canadian team will battle for bronze.
Ladies team pursuit
In the ladies races, the Dutch team set a new Olympic record of 2:58.61. Their U.S. opponents -- Brittany Bowe, Heather Richardson and Jilleanne Rookard -- skated their own race to the fastest time they had skated this season, 3:02.21. The U.S. will face Canada in the C Final, as the Canadians had the fastest time of those defeated, 3:02.06, in their race with Russia.
Just like in the men's field, Poland faced Norway, and again, the Norwegians lost. Poland, the Olympic bronze medalists of 2010, will meet Russia in the first semifinal.
The Japanese weren't so fast with 3:03.99, but they were fortunate in that the Korean team had the slowest time, and consequently, the Japanese will face the Netherlands in the second semifinal Saturday. Japan and Norway will compete in the D Final.
"We are happy that we skated to the best of our ability and we left the outside stuff out there," Bowe said. "The team pursuit has been a building process. We started from scratch this summer, and that was by far the fastest lowland track time we have done."
"We skated very well today," Richardson said. "We mentally prepared for losing to the Netherlands. I'm kind of sad that it is over; I love speedskating. Definitely disappointment in individual races. We just went out and had fun.
"My mom and dad surprised me being here, and I'm glad to share the experience with them," she added.
"I was a little bummed that we were paired with the Dutch, but never count yourselves out, for crazy things can happen," Rookard said. "We were really really pleased with the time. We end up either fifth or sixth, at least the best place of the Olympics. We remind each other of our weaknesses and our strengths."