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Dutch dominant to the finish

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 2:10 a.m. HST, Feb 23, 2014

SOCHI, Russia >> The final day of speedskating at the Sochi Olympics was nothing more than a victory lap for the mighty Dutch.

The Netherlands capped its dominant performance with two more gold medals Saturday in team pursuit, bringing its haul to a staggering eight golds and 23 medals overall.

The Dutch men cruised through the semifinals and final, pulling away from South Korea to win gold with an Olympic record time of 3 minutes, 37.71 seconds. Sven Kramer, Jan Blokhuijsen and Koen Verweij raised their clasped hands in triumph, taking the country's first gold ever in pursuit and making up for heavily favored teams that flopped in 2006 and 2010.

Then, in the only imaginable way for this competition to end, the women blew away Poland with their third Olympic record time in three races. Ireen Wust, Jorien ter Mors and Marrit Leenstra were like a runaway train, leading by more than a second and a half after the first half-lap and steadily building the advantage from there, winning by more than seven seconds in 2:58.05.

Wust became the first athlete at these Winter Games with five medals two golds and three silvers.

The Netherlands turned in a performance that may never be duplicated, taking nearly twice as many medals at the oval as every other nation combined. While former powerhouses such as Norway and the United States didn't win even a single long-track medal in Sochi, the team in orange turned this into essentially the Dutch trials.

The eight golds in 12 events broke the previous record of six golds by the Soviet speedskaters at the 1960 Winter Games. The total medals blew away the old mark of 13 by the East Germans at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

The only consolation for everyone else in team pursuit: There was no way for the Dutch to hoard all the medals, as they did in four individual events.

South Korea seemed more than thrilled with its silver on the men's side, with Poland rallying to beat Canada for the bronze.

Poland assured another medal on the women's side by winning in the semifinals. But there was no stopping the Dutch, so silver was really the best anyone could do. The bronze went to Russia, which defeated Japan in the third-place race.

Other than that, it was a Dutch party all the way.


Mario Matt of Austria won gold in the men's slalom, making him the oldest Alpine champion in Olympic history. Matt, who turns 35 in April, surpasses now-retired Norwegian great Kjetil Andre Aamodt as the oldest skier to win an Alpine race. 


Russia won the 4x7.5-kilometer men's biathlon relay to take its games-leading 11th gold medal.

Russian anchor Anton Shipulin beat Germany's Simon Schempp on the final lap to give the host nation its first biathlon gold of the Sochi Games. Defending champion Norway led for most of the race but dropped to fourth after anchor Emil Hegle Svendsen missed three targets in his final shooting.


American-born Vic Wild, who became a Russian citizen in 2011 after marrying Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina, captured his second gold by winning the Olympic debut of men's parallel slalom snowboarding.

Wild won gold in parallel giant slalom earlier this week. He and another adopted Russian, former South Korean short track speedskater Viktor Ahn, have won five of Russia's 11 gold medals in Sochi. Zan Kosir of Slovenia took silver behind Wild, and Benjamin Karl of Austria won bronze.

In the women's parallel slalom, Julia Dujmovits edged Anke Karstens of Germany at the finish. Amelie Kober of Germany won bronze.

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