Monday, February 9, 1998
Canada's Overland in second in 500m
NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- Don't expect world records to fall every day in speedskating. And don't count the Americans out just yet.
Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan didn't top his world-record time of 35.39 seconds in the 500 meters, but he was the fourth skater to break the Olympic record Monday and led after the first race with a 35.76.
Kevin Overland of Canada was in second place at 35.78 followed by the biggest surprise of the day -- American Casey FitzRandolph, who has struggled with the new clap skates but finished in 35.81.
The medals will be decided Tuesday. Under a new format that favors consistency, the winner will be determined by his combined time for two races.
A day after the world record in the 5,000 meters was shattered three times over the final five races in the M-Wave, the Olympic record in the 500 was gone after just one race when Ermanno Ioriatti of Italy posted a 36.30, beating the 36.33 mark set by Russia's Aleksandr Golubev in Lillehammer.
Thousands of fans lining the concourse braced for a repeat run of records, but it never happened.
One by one, they crept closer to the Shimizu's world record and kept erasing the previous Olympic mark -- first FitzRandolph, then Overland, then Shimizu.
The second-to-last pairing of Canada's Jeremy Wotherspoon and Dutchman Jan Bos, the two favorites for the gold medal, proved to be anti-climactic.
Wotherspoon nearly slipped around the final turn and was in seventh with a 36.04. Bos staggered at the start and finished at 36.66 for 20th place, kicking a cone in disgust after he had crossed the line.
FitzRandolph had been a model of frustration ever since the hinged blades were approved. He was third at the World Sprint Championship and won 10 medals during the 1996-97 World Cup season.
With the clap skates, he struggled even to qualify for the Olympics.
All that changed at the M-Wave. FitzRandolph, of Verona, Wis., ripped off a great start and then saved his hopes around the final turn when he nearly slipped.
His left hand glided over the ice as he regained his balance, and despite coming out of the turn a little wide he finished strong and had the Olympic record -- even if it only lasted four more heats.
Still, it could be just the confidence he needs going into Tuesday's second race. FitzRandolph raised both hands and index fingers and gave a high-five to U.S. coach Guy Thibault.
David Cruikshank, the husband of six-time Olympic medalist Bonnie Blair, was tied for 21st with defending champion Golubev.
While it was a big day for the Americans, the Japanese were not disappointed. The sprint is their best hope for a medal, and the flag-waving, horn-tooting, name-chanting home crowd rivaled the Dutch in volume.
The pressure is so great on Japan that its team leader asked the media earlier this week to keep their questions short.
For one day, Shimizu gave them something to celebrate. He shot out from the start in 9.66 for the first 100 meters and pulled up slightly a meter before crossing the line, worth precious seconds.
That won't be the case Tuesday with medals at stake.
ResultsNAGANO, Japan (AP) -- Results Monday at the men's speedskating at the Winter Olympics:
Men's 500-metre preliminaries: 1. Hiroyasu Shimizu, Japan, 35.76 seconds; 2 Kevin Overland, Kitchener, Ont., 35.78; 3. Casey FitzRandolph, U.S., 35.81; 4. Sylvain Bouchard, Loretteville, Que., 35.90; 5. Erben Wennemars, Netherlands, 35.96; 6. Patrick Bouchard, Cap-Rouge, Que., 35.960; 7. Jeremy Wotherspoon, Red Deer, Alta., 36.04; 8. Kim Yoon-man, South Korea, 36.13; 9. Lee Kyu-Hyuk, South Korea, 36.14; 10. Ermanno Ioriatti, Italy, 36.30.
11. Grunde Njos, Norway, 36.32; 12. Toshiyuki Kuroiwa, Japan, 36.37; 13. Manabu Horii, Japan, 36.37; 14. Roger Strom, Norway, 36.53; 15. Sergei Klevchenya, Russia, 36.56; 16. Michael Kuenzel, Germany, 36.56; 17. Janne Hanninen, Finland, 36.58; 18. Jaegal Sung-yeol, South Korea, 36.58; 19, Hiroaki Yamakage, Japan, 36.61; 20. Jan Bos, Netherlands, 36.66.
21. Alexander Golubev, Russia, 36.67; 22. David Cruikshank, Northbrook, Ill., 36.67; 23. Jakko Leeuwangh, Netherlands, 36.69; 24. Pawel Abratkiewicz, Poland, 36.76; 25. Liu Hongbo, China, 36.77; 26. Christian Breuer, Germany, 36.78; 27. Li Yu, China, 36.79; 28. Tomasz Swist, Poland, 36.86; 29. Vadim Shakshakbayev, Kazakhstan, 36.87; 30. Roland Brunner, Austria, 36.90.
31. Peter Adeberg, Germany, 36.92; 32. Marc Pelchat, U.S., 36.94; 33. Dai Dengwen, China, 37.03; 34. Davide Carta, Italy, 37.11; 35. Kim Jin-soo, South Korea, 37.19; 36. Vladimir Klepinin, Kazakstan, 37.22; 37. Oleg Kostromitin, Ukraine, 37.27; 38. Alexander Kibalko, Russia, 37.32; 39. Cory Carpenter, U.S., 37.35; 40. Zsolt Balo, Hungary, 38.48.
41. Ids Postma, Netherlands, one minute 18.68 seconds; 42. Sergei Savelyev, Russia, Disqualified.