The longest speed skating race of the 2022 Winter Olympics commences Friday as six pairs of athletes get one shot for the 10,000m gold medal.
The Netherlands rule the long distance, as Dutch skaters have won the discipline at five of the last seven Olympics. However, the 2018 Winter Olympics marked the second time since 1998 that the podium did not consist of multiple Dutch athletes.
Canada's Ted-Jan Bloemen is the defending gold medalist, having set the Olympic record in 2018. The 35-year-old was born in the Netherlands and skated for the national team until he missed the cut for the 2014 Olympics. Since then, he has competed for Canada, where his father is from.
He finished sixth in the 10,000m at the 2021 World Championships.
Sweden's Nils van der Poel won the event by setting the world record, which still stands.
Van der Poel set the Olympic record to win the men's 5000m gold medal last Sunday. Funnily enough, he also has Dutch ties from his grandfather.
The 25-year-old has said there needs to be more rock stars in speed skating, and he put on a show during the final lap of his 5000m victory. Van der Poel trailed Dutch skater Patrick Roest's time until the final 400m when he dug in for the fastest final lap of the event.
The most recent Olympian to win both the 5000m and 10,000m events in the same year was Jochem Uytdehaage of the Netherlands back in 2002.
Jorrit Bergsma, who is also Dutch, reached the podium in both distances at the 2014 Winter Olympics and returns as the defending silver medalist.
A dark horse contender is the ROC's Aleksandr Rumyantsev, who finished third at the 2021 World Championships after van der Poel and Bergsma. He was banned for life following a doping violation in 2017, but the sanction was reversed in 2018.
No Americans qualified to compete in the 10,000m.