Hot blades on a frozen lake
Lausanne 2020's speed skating competition has been contested at the most scenic venue of the Games – on the frozen lake in St. Moritz. And the athletes performed admirably.
Japan and Netherlands grab first speed skating golds of Lausanne 2020
The speed skating competition exploded into life with gold medals for Yamamoto Yudai (JPN) and Isabel Grevelt (NED) in the men’s and women’s 500 m races. Yamamoto, a 17-year-old from Hokkaido, carved across the finish line ahead of silver medallist Nil Llop Izquierdo (ESP), and Xue Zhiwen (CHN) in third. Grevelt took gold, followed home 0.5 seconds later by Wang Jingyi (CHN) and Yoshida Yukino (JPN).
“This is my first time skating on a lake. I think it was very difficult because there were cracks in it. But it was not a problem for me” – said Yamamoto
Day two also for Netherlands and Japan
The second day of speedskating competition has put the same to nations at the top of the podium. Myrthe de Boer (NED) won gold in women’s 1500m ahead of Takahashi Yuka (JPN) and Yang Binyu (CHN), while Arito Motonaga (JPN) finished in first place in men’s 1500m. Pavel Taran (RUS) finished in second and Jonathan Tobon (USA) grabbed bronze.
“During the final lap, my muscles were cramping a lot because of competing at a high altitude and the windy conditions. It felt like I was racing incredibly slow at some point, but having won gold I do not care about my time anymore” – said de Boer.
Mixed-nation team event gives underdog speed skaters medal glory
Teamwork and tactics paid dividends in a morning of excitement at the speed skating mixed NOC team sprint event on Lake St. Moritz.
Featuring 16 teams of four athletes – two men and two women – from different nations, the gold medal went to Team 3, made up of Sini Siro (FIN), Yoshida Yukino (JPN), Ignaz Gschwentner (AUT) and Alexander Sergeev (RUS).
“I would normally have never won a medal in speed skating at the Youth Olympic Games,” said Siro after Team 3’s winning time of two minutes, 4.1 seconds. “But this was a perfect opportunity for me as we were competing as a team. Teamwork is for sure the reason behind this success, because we learn from each other. It is very awesome to win gold”.
Fourth time lucky
After two fourth-place finishes and one disqualification, speed skater Diego Amaya Martinez reached the podium in his final event of Lausanne 2020 to become Colombia’s first medallist in any Winter Games.
Amaya Martinez won silver in the men’s mass start event on Thursday on the iconic Lake St. Moritz to achieve his goal of making history for Colombia. The 16-year-old timed his late surge to perfection and finished with an overall score of 20 points, coming in behind Japan’s Arito Motonaga, who claimed gold with 30 points.
“I did not really believe it at first,” Amaya Martinez said. “With the mass start, you have to be really smart and stay calm until the end of the race. It was a big moment of joy for me to win a medal after all.”
In the women’s mass start, Yang Binyu (CHN) claimed her second medal at the St. Moritz Speed Skating Oval, adding gold to her third-place finish in the women’s 1500m. Yang finished ahead of Russia's Zuzana Kursova and Katia Filippi of Italy.
Izquierdo fights back from career-threatening injury to win historic medal
Speed skater Nil Llop Izquierdo (ESP) was told by doctors he would never skate again after suffering a serious leg injury a year and a half ago. Thanks to his determination and perseverance, however, he not only made his way back into the sport but claimed Spain’s first-ever medal at a Winter Youth Olympic Games when he got silver in 500m.
“But it is a privilege for me to compete at the Games, especially after being told I could never skate again, I am just very happy to even be here at all” – he said.