Speed Skating

The Associated Press - Monday Feb. 10, 2014 05:17 ET

Sven Kramer 'likely' to skip 1,500 race

Dutch speed skater wants to prepare for 10,000

Sven Kramer speaks to reporters in Sochi.

Sven Kramer speaks to reporters in Sochi on Wednesday. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

Sven Kramer is so intent on atoning for the blunder that cost him the 10,000-meter speedskating title four years ago that he will likely skip a shot at gold in the 1,500 to concentrate exclusively on the long-distance event.

The Dutchman, who already won the 5,000 during the opening weekend of the Olympics, said Monday the middle distance would "likely" be too much of a distraction during his preparation for the longer race on Feb. 18.

At the 2010 Vancouver Games, he was on his way to the gold medal when coach Gerard Kemkers sent him into the wrong lane on a crossover. The error, which defied belief, brought a disqualification. It unsettled his confidence and instead of the three gold medals he was favored to win, he came home with only the 5,000.

So he is all focus now at the Adler Arena.

Kramer said that even if Kemkers said he was strong enough to take the 1,500 gold as well, it didn't matter.

"Even if I would win it, it is the 10,000 I want," he said.

And with an overwhelming victory in the 5,000 on Saturday, he is again as much the favorite to win the 10,000 than he was four years ago.

The 1,500 is much more an explosion of speed with more aggressive strides and sometimes flailing arms compared with rhythmic dance with arms on the back in the long-distance events.

The middle-distance event is also a wide-open race where Kramer would be an outsider for gold, even if his form in Sochi is impressive. Shani Davis of the United States, Denis Yuskov of Russia and Dutch teammate Koen Verweij are among the favorites.

With such an impressive pedigree that has already made him one of the greatest skaters, Kramer is not skating for silver or bronze anymore. "Many people will say I am mad, but in the end, it is winning that counts."

He also feared that in case he did win a medal over the middle distance, the ceremonial commitments over two days that come with this would upset his preparations for the 10,000, which is three days after the 1,500.

"It is the 10K I want to win," he said. "That is why I came here."

And if that is successful, he also is favored to lead the Netherlands to gold in the team pursuit.


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