Dutch Speed Skater Makes Embarrassing Mistake

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VANCOUVER - At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, one of the most highlighted events of the Games has been speed skating. Last week, Sven Kramer from the Netherlands could have made up for a disappointing effort in Torino with a gold medal in the 10,000 meter speed skating race in Vancouver. Due to a split-second mishap, however, Kramer was disqualified, though he was a whopping 4 seconds faster than the skater trailing behind him.

When Kramer was supposed to switch into the outer lane of the track, his coach told him to switch into the inner track, thus disqualifying the athlete. Since he only had a slight moment to decide, he listened to his coaches words. Kramer was a favorite of the event, and his time would have set an Olympic record.

Kramer blamed his coach for the mishap, according to the Vancouver Sun. “Usually, I don't want to blame anyone else. I take responsibility as the skater on the ice. But this time I can't do anything else. I wanted to go on the outer lane, then just before the cone Gerard shouted, 'Inner lane!' I thought he was probably right. At first I thought my skates passed the cone on the wrong side, and I will be disqualified. Then I noticed in the stadium, something was wrong.”

The disqualification brought great disappointment to the Netherlands, which views speed skating as an important sport and a point of national pride. As the Gerard den Elt, a correspondent for the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, said: “It’s a national tragedy. It’s all anybody’s talking about. A few days ago our prime minister stepped down, but it’s off the front pages because it’s all about Sven Kramer.” Fans are at a loss to explain how the successful team of Kemkers and Kramer could have made such a mistake. According to the New York Times, six million Dutch were watching the event during Kramer’s mishap.

Kramer is no stranger to disappointment at the Olympics. At the Torino Games, he accidentally fell and collided with his teammate, leaving them both out of contention for gold in the team pursuit event.

Kramer’s coach, Gerard Kemkers, who is a former Olympic speed skater, is also deeply disappointed in his actions during the event. The Vancouver Sun also reported that Kemkers lamented, “My world collapsed. This is a disaster. This is the worst moment in my career. Sven was right, I was wrong.”

According to the Associated Press, Kramer has since talked with Kemkers, agreeing to stay together. Kramer said that, “The past years were simply too good to drop someone just like that." This is true, considering while Kemkers was his coach, Kramer stated he was, "Three times world champion, four times European champion, so many World Cups and Olympic gold in the 5,000 meter,” according to the Washington Post.


Though Kramer and Kemkers have agreed to stay together, the Associated Press has reported that Kramer is thinking about the hiring of an additional coach to curb any mistake that could possibly happen as he trains towards the Games at Sochi in 2014. A new trainer could bring a fresh approach to this world-record holding skater. As Kramer said, “It is clear I want something new.”





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