Bloemen ends Dutch dominance at the Olympic Oval

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) Ted-Jan Bloemen finally broke the Dutch hold on the top step of the podium at the Olympic Oval.

The Canadian speedskater, who was born in the Netherlands but moved to Canada four years ago, won the 10,000 meters Thursday in an Olympic record time.

Defending champion Jorrit Bergsma took and silver and Dutch teammate Sven Kramer again failed to win the one Olympic race he most craves. Missing power and pace, Kramer slumped to sixth, well behind surprise bronze medalist Nicola Tumolero of Italy.

”It just wasn’t good enough. I didn’t hit it,” said Kramer, the 5,000-meter champion at the Pyeongchang Games. ”I knew the 10 was going to be very tough. And Ted-Jan Bloemen skated a fantastic time.”

Bloemen moved to Canada after he failed to make the Dutch team four years ago, a decision that paid golden dividends on Thursday.

”I felt right at home in Canada. Everything fell into place,” Bloemen, who has also broken Kramer’s world record since he made the switch, told Dutch broadcaster NOS. ”I am so proud I made it and so thankful to my team.”

Bloemen took silver behind Kramer in the 5,000, and his style proved he was in the form of his life.

”The 5 gave me so much confidence,” he said.

Bergsma moved stylishly from the start and saved his energy for the second half of the grueling race. He kicked up his speed around the six-kilometer mark and even lapped his direct opponent, Davide Ghiotto, to set the first Olympic record of the day.

It was a tough challenge for the two favorites to follow.

Bloemen set off at a blistering pace, already three seconds ahead of Bergsma by the two-kilometer mark. He maintained the lead for much of the time but briefly could not match Bergsma’s pace.

At the end, Bloemen went into overdrive and secured the victory.

Arms wide open, his smile at its widest, Bloemen clenched his fists as he crossed the line. His time of 12 minutes, 39.77 seconds beat Bergsma by 2.21 seconds. Tumolero earned bronze in 12:54.32.

Kramer raced after Bloemen and the tension was high at the oval. The skater who had dominated the grueling event at every competition except the Olympics couldn’t manage to get to the pace that made him famous.

With two kilometers to go, Kramer’s coach, Bart Schouten, congratulated Bloemen and held him in a warm embrace, knowing not even his best skater could recover from such a deficit.

Crossing the line, Kramer looked stunned and glided up to Bloemen to congratulate the new champion as he held the Canadian flag aloft.

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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