CANOE NAGANO '98 ISP DIRECTORY
Sunday, February 15, 1998
Another gold for the Dutch -- this one a sprint
NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- This is new territory for the Dutch -- not a gold medal in speedskating, only the short time it took them to win it.
The Dutch have long been dominant in the distance races, and started the Nagano games with a 1-2 finish in the 5,000 meters behind world record-setter Gianni Romme.
On Sunday, Ids Postma showed they can sprint, too.
Postma, the defending world all-around champion, gave the Netherlands its first gold medal in a sprint race by setting an Olympic record in the 1,000.
"We're very strong right now," he said. "I don't know why it's happening. I'm really happy with the gold. That's what we came here for."
Postma finished in 1 minute, 10.64 seconds and became the third skater to beat the 1:12.43 time that Dan Jansen posted in Lillehammer.
Jan Bos finished in 1:10.71 to make a 1-2 finish for the Dutch. Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan, gold medalist in the 500, won the bronze with a 1:11.00.
Postma shared one thing in common with Jansen, who watched 18 skaters go faster than his Olympic record -- both were coached in this distance by Peter Mueller, who won the 1,000 for the Unites States at the 1976 games in Innsbruck.
As for the Americans? They remained medal-less at the M-Wave. Casey FitzRandolph of Verona, Wis., finished seventh in 1:11.64 while KC Boutiette of Tacoma, Wash., was eighth at 1:11.75.
The Netherlands had not won any Olympic speedskating race shorter than 1,500 meters. The surprise was that Postma was the one who pulled it off.
He slipped around the first turn in the first race of the 500 last week. Then he blew a chance to win the 1,500 when he missed a stride coming out of the final turn, settling for the silver.
This race was nearly flawless, the only misstep coming early when he clipped a lane marker. But he sped through the final lap in 27.32 and pumped his arms twice, then jumped into his coach's arms when the time held up.
"I'm an all-around skater and I just prepared for the 1,000," Postma said. "Normally, I have a lot of speed. Today, I had a very good second lap, better than most sprinters."
And better than all of the Canadians, who were looking to build off a 1-2 finish the women produced in the 500 the day before.
World record-holder Jeremy Wotherspoon was on pace to top Postma until fading badly at the end. He finished in 1:11.39, a look of disbelief on his face when the digital clock flashed his time.
"I was really good at 600 meters and I just died," Wotherspoon said. "That doesn't normally happen to me."
Wotherspoon, the silver medalist in the 500, finished sixth behind teammate Sylvain Bouchard. Jakko Jan Leeuwangh of the Netherlands was fourth, 0.26 seconds shy of giving the Dutch a sweep.
A cheer rang out from the far end of the M-Wave when Kevin Overland of Canada, the bronze medalist in the 500, finished well back in the final heat.
That clinched a 1-2 finish for the Dutch, whose cheers were matched only by the Japanese enamored yet again by another strong showing by Shimizu.
It wasn't gold, like his heroic performance in the 500 last week, but Shimizu wasn't expected to break through against the Canadians.
The Dutch were hopeful for a gold, but it figured to come from the 22-year-old Bos, who last year became the first Dutch world sprint champion.
Skating in the next-to-last heat, he also was on pace to win the gold but finished seven-hundredths of a second behind his teammate.
The Americans have now gone six events without a medal, and could get shut out of a speedskating medal for only the second time since women's events were included at the 1960 games in Squaw Valley, Calif.
FitzRandolph used to place among the best in the world in the 1,000 until the new clap skates sent him into a tailspin. Boutiette, who finished fifth in the 1,500, set a personal best in the 1,000 but it wasn't nearly good enough to match the Dutch.
Nathaniel Mills of Evanston, Ill., tied for 23rd with a 1:12.61, while Cory Carpenter of Brookfield, Wis., was 29th in 1:13.03.