Irene Schouten of the Netherlands secured her second gold medal of the 2022 Winter Olympics at the women's 5000m speed skating competition on Thursday.
She did so by setting the Olympic record at 6:43.51, which is over three seconds faster than Germany's Claudia Pechstein's mark of 6:46.91 reached in 2002. The 29-year-old Dutch athlete swept the women's long distance races after her gold medal win and Olympic record in the 3000m last Saturday
Isabelle Weidemann of Canada claimed the silver medal while 34-year-old Czech skater Martina Sablikova earned the bronze, her seventh career Olympic medal.
“I felt really good before the race, but I saw that Isabelle skated a really good time, and I thought 'I have to be faster than (6:48)," Schouten told reporters after the win. "But I skated really good, so I am happy.”
Schouten took the win in the sixth and final pairing.
The ROC's Natalya Voronina, the world record holder at 6:39.02, led the standings after the first three duos, but Sablikova bested her in the fourth grouping. The Czech skater was consistent during her race with laps between 31.83 and 32.97 for the entire skate.
Weidemann was next and did not record a lap longer than 32.86. She is the first Canadian to medal in the women's 5000m since 2010, plus she earned the bronze in the 3000m last weekend.
"It went by really fast," Weidemann said in a press conference. "I was trying to control it and think about my technique, but I lost track of the laps. I was trying to find a rhythm, but it was a fight."
Schouten showed an extraordinary level of endurance, getting faster in each of her final four laps. Her last 400m hit 31.18 seconds on the clock, which was her best mark of the race. She held the first-place pace through the final eight laps and blew away Weidemann by nearly five seconds.
The now-three-time Olympic medalist continued the Netherlands' commanding start to Olympic speed skating competition, as Dutch skaters have won gold in four of the first five events.
The only exception was the men's 5000m race, in which Dutch skater Patrick Roest set an Olympic record but was bested by Sweden's Nils van der Poel.
History for Sablikova
Sablikova is now the most decorated Olympian in Czech Republic history, summer or winter.
"I don’t have words," Sablikova told the media. "One month (ago), I did not know (if) I would compete here because I cut myself on ice. It was hard to prepare for the Olympics.”
She was noncommittal regarding a return in 2026, which could be her sixth Olympics. If Thursday was her last race, then she goes out as one of nine speed skaters with at least seven Olympic medals.
“I will have to think about this, because preparing for the Olympics is hard and I am now 34.”
Speed skating returns on Thursday with the men's 10,000m, which is the longest race of the Olympics. The event starts at 3 a.m. ET.
Check out the full speed skating schedule here.