Reigning world champion Kjeld Nuis did just enough to take the men’s speed skating 1,000m gold medal at PyeongChang 2018, beating Norway’s Havard Lorentzen by just 0.04 of a second at the Gangneung Oval on Friday 23 February. The Republic of Korea’s Kim Tae-Yun won the bronze.
Skating in the 13th of the 18 pairs, the USA’s Joey Mantia took the lead in the competition with a time of one minute 8.564 seconds. Kim then had the home fans cheering when he crossed the line 0.27 seconds faster to move into gold medal position.
The cheers died down when the next pair went out, as Lorentzen – the 500m winner on 19 February – set a new fastest time of one minute 7.99 seconds. Skating in the final pair, Nuis went even quicker to claim the Netherlands’ seventh speed skating gold of PyeongChang2018 and become the first reigning world champion in the distance to go and win the Olympic title.
Nuis by a nose
The cheers died down when the next pair went out, as Lorentzen – the 500m winner on 19 February – put in a searing first lap en route to setting a new fastest time of one minute 7.99 seconds. Skating in the final heat, Nuis shook off a false start to go 0.15 seconds faster than the Norwegian over the first 200 metres.
Though slower over the next 400, giving up 0.12 seconds as the splits between the two narrowed dramatically, Nuis went 0.01 seconds quicker than Lorentzen in the last lap to edge him out and claim the Netherlands’ seventh speed skating gold of PyeongChang2018. In winning his second gold of the Games, after the 1,500m on 13 February, Nuis become the first reigning 1,000m world champion to win the Olympic title.
Coping with the pressure
“The first gold was a victory and this is a relief,” said Nuis, the third man to win the 1,000m/1,500m double after the USA’s Eric Heiden at Lake Placid 1980 and Canada’s Gaetan Boucher at Sarajevo 1984. “I was psyched to get this one. I really felt the tension today and after the false start the nerves were running through my body. But now it doesn’t matter any more. I’m most proud of keeping my nerves under control. That was my victory today.”
“It was a good race, but it wasn’t my perfect race and that’s a little bit disappointing,” said silver medallist Lorentzen. “But I am super happy to have a silver medal. It’s been great: a gold and silver. My goal before the Olympics was a medal, so it’s been good.”
“It’s like a dream,” said Kim, delighted with his bronze on home ice. “I didn’t do well in the World Cups this year, but I think all my hard work paid off. I’m so happy. The crowd helped me a lot. The more they cheered me on, the more I could feel my body getting lighter.”