SOCHI, Russia – For the Dutch, another gold medal at the speedskating oval. For Shani Davis, a stunning defeat.
Davis’ shot at Olympic history ended Feb. 12 at Adler Arena when Stefan Groothuis won gold for the Netherlands in the 1,000 meters, ending the American’s hopes of becoming the first male speedskater to win the same event at three straight Olympics.
After Davis completed the first full lap of the 2½-lap race, it was clear his reign was over. He crossed the line more than seventh-tenths of a second behind Groothuis’ winning time of 1 minute, 8.39 seconds.
On the cool-down lap from a performance that would leave him in eighth place, Davis simply stared at the ice, his skates far apart. When the final pair was done, he went over to Groothuis and gave him a congratulatory slap on the back.
Groothuis, who has struggled with depression and once contemplated suicide, earned the fourth gold medal in five speedskating events for the Dutch at these Winter Games.
For good measure, 500 champion Michel Mulder took the bronze, giving the Netherlands 10 out of a possible 15 medals overall through the first five events — a dominating performance that sets them up to crush the record for most speedskating medals by a country at a single Olympics.
Canada’s Denny Morrison took the silver in 1:08.43. He wasn’t even scheduled to compete in the event, but got in when a teammate gave up his spot. Mulder was third in 1:08.74.
Davis’ time was 1:09.12 — a bitter disappointment for an American team that came to Sochi with high hopes but has yet to earn a spot on the podium. Brian Hansen of Glenview, Ill., was ninth and broke down in tears afterward. Joey Mantia of Ocala, Fla., was 15th and Jonathan Garcia of Houston 28th.
(Paul Newberry, AP National Writer)