The 2022 Winter Olympic speed skating competition involved the most historically successful team maintaining prominence while new faces grabbed a hold of the sport.
The Netherlands remained the dominant country with 12 medals including six gold to extend its all-time lead.
Erin Jackson of the United States became the first Black woman to win a speed skating gold medal. She hopes her victory will open doors for people looking to participate in winter sports.
Also, Swedish skater Nils van der Poel shattered the world record in the men’s 10,000m race then followed the win by posting a 62-page document on how he did it.
Irene Schouten of the Netherlands left the 2022 Winter Olympics with four medals, the most of any speed skater. She set Olympic records to win both women’s long distance races: the 3000m and 5000m.
The 29-year-old also won the women’s mass start and collected a bronze medal in the team pursuit.
"This is something I didn't dare to dream about," Schouten said.
Van der Poel swept the men’s long distance races.
His first victory came in the 5000m. Van der Poel trailed Dutch skater Patrick Roest’s pace until the final split, but his last lap was the second-fastest of his race. He set the Olympic record and defeated Roest by 0.47 seconds.
The 25-year-old's second victory was much less dramatic, as he admitted after the event that he had a good idea the gold was his before the gun fired off. Van der Poel’s goal during his skate was to set the world record, which he did by more than two seconds.
Roest finished second again, this time by 13.85 seconds.
“I was so exhausted after the 5K, that was a really tough race for me," van der Poel said. “I tried to stay in control this whole race and tried to finish strong. The trip was a lot more comfortable this time for sure.”
After the win, van der Poel published a PDF that included his full training regiment plus philosophies in life and athletics.
Jackson won the women’s 500m by 0.08 seconds to capture her first career medal.
The 29-year-old former inline skater won the only gold medal for the U.S. in speed skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
"I just hope it will do something for the sport," Jackson said. "Hopefully more people will see this and will be, like, 'Oh, maybe I should try some of these winter sports'. I just hope to be a good example."
Jackson's first ever ice skate was six years ago, and she started her speed skating career four months before the 2018 Olympic Trials. She ascended quickly and won several World cup races ahead of the 2022 Games.
Gao Tingyu became the first Chinese speed skater to win a gold medal in long track with his 500m win. He performed in the seventh of 15 groups and watched pair after pair fall short of his mark.
The Dutch dominated the 1000m and 1500m events with three golds, two silvers and a bronze in four disciplines.
Ireen Wuest won the women’s 1500m to become the first Olympian to ever win gold medals at five different Games, summer or winter.
She earned two medals in Beijing, including the team pursuit bronze. Wuest is retiring after the final World Cup event in March, and she does so with the most Olympic speed skating medals of all-time at 13.
"I'm looking at a great Olympics," Wuest said. "I've only got one race left now ... and after that, retirement."
Kjeld Nuis and Thomas Krol won the 1500m and 1000m events, respectively.
Japan’s Miho Takagi prevented a Dutch sweep in the middle distances by winning the women’s 1000m. She earned her first career individual gold medal after capturing three silvers at the 2022 Winter Olympics ahead of her final race.
"To finally win the gold, I am happy, but I am happy not just for the medal, but because I really gave it my best today," Takagi said.
Reigning world champion Brittany Bowe of the U.S. finished third in the women’s 1000m to claim her first career individual medal at 33 years old.
Canada set the Olympic record to win the women’s team pursuit final over Japan.
The Japanese team led with less than a split remaining, but two-time gold medalist Nana Takagi slipped and fell to open the door for Canada.
Norway bested the ROC in the men's final handily to win its second straight gold medal. The Russians set the Olympic record in the semifinal to best the U.S. but ran out of gas. The Americans won their B Final race against the Netherlands to claim the bronze medal.
Both mass start finals came down to the final few meters to decide the winners.
Bart Swings won Belgium’s first winter gold medal since 1948 in the men’s final. The difference between first and fourth place came down to 0.09 seconds, as American Joey Mantia landed in the unfortunate first spot off the podium. He missed out on third by 0.001 seconds and wanted a penalty call for a hold at the end.
Schouten won the women’s final by 0.06 seconds over Canada’s Ivanie Blondin.
The Canadian led until the final three strides when Schouten overtook her. Schouten’s endurance paid off over the sprinter Blondin.
American Mia Manganello Kilburg finished fourth.
End of an era
Wuest, 35, is not the only giant of the sport on the way out.
Sven Kramer from the Netherlands is the all-time leader in men’s speed skating medals with nine, and he retired following the men’s mass start competition. Kramer, 35, has the most World Allround and World Single Distance titles in speed skating history, as well.
Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic said she was undecided on her future after finishing third in the women’s 5000m. The 34-year-old has seven career Olympic medals as a force in the long distances for over a decade.
Claudia Pechstein, the oldest women’s Winter Olympian of all-time at 49 years old, will decide on her skating future after the World Cup season. She finished ninth in the mass start to close out her eighth career Winter Olympics.