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I was pleasantly surprised to see speed skating on the menu for NBC’s afternoon broadcast: the men’s 10,000m long track event, featuring Sven Kramer –the pride and joy of the Netherlands.
Fifteen minutes before the end of afternoon coverage NBC finally turned out eyes to the last heat at the Richmond Oval where the familiar orange-clad Kramer was pulsing his way around the track, Ivan Skobrev of Russian in pursuit. For Kramer the race was actually against the time set by South Korean Lee Seung-Hoon. It appeared another perfect win for Kramer, who had not lost at this distance since 2007, until the very end.
As Kramer came to halt after the finish line it became immediately apparent that something was wrong: he threw a coach’s arm off his shoulder, kicked at the ice, scowled at the cosmos and the perplexed commentators tuned us into the Richmond Oval announcer, positing that Kramer had failed to cross into the appropriate lane for his last lap.
As officials, announcer and commentators grappled through the situation the cameras followed Sven’s fury against the backdrop of an arena shocked nearly silent. Kramer was disqualified in bizarre turn of events resulting in another South Korean speed skating gold, followed by Skobrev of Russia and Bob de Jong of the Netherlands. Cra-zy.
And cue the beginning of rubbing salt into a very bitter wound: “This will be talked about in the Netherlands forever, how Sven Kramer lost the gold by forgetting to switch lanes.”
UPDATE: As it turns out, Kramer’s coach mistakenly directed him to jump back into the wrong lane right at the end, thus causing Kramer (who had already crossed into the appropriate lane) to end up in DQ position. Coach is not talking to the media, but at least that statement from afternoon coverage [above] doesn’t hold true for Kramer: he didn’t forget, and even hesitated as his coach bellowed from the sidelines. So now the Netherlands will never stop talking about the coach who cost them “Svencouver.”
Holy upset Batman!