Gao Tingyu secured China’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in speed skating on Saturday, winning the men’s 500m.
The 24-year-old shot off the line and flew through the finish to set the Olympic record at 34.32 in the seventh pairing. Gao then sat and watched eight more pairs compete, and one-by-one he came closer to capturing the gold.
He secured the bronze in 2018, becoming the first male Chinese long track skater to win an Olympic medal.
“I just want to say that I made it,” Gao told the media after the race. “I said four years ago that I will win gold in 2022, and today I made it.”
Cha Min-Kyu of South Korea earned the silver medal for the second straight Olympics. He was 0.07 seconds off Gao’s mark.
“I was very close to winning, it’s a pity,” Cha said. “But still, this has been my best performance so far. I felt quite happy.”
Japan’s Morishige Wataru came in third for the bronze medal. He is just 21 and made his World Cup debut this season.
Reigning world champion Laurent Dubreuil of Canada missed the podium by 0.03 seconds. The race for third place was very tight, as seven skaters were within 0.14 seconds of Morishige’s time.
“It was a good race, but it wasn’t a great race and I needed a great race today,” Dubreuil said. “It’s very disappointing, but I did the best I could today.”
Jordan Stolz, the 17-year-old from Wisconsin, skated a 34.85 in the fifth pairing, the first sub 35-second time of the competition. He won the 500m and 1000m races at U.S. Trials in January.
Stolz finished 13th in his Olympic debut.
“I was pretty calm,” Stolz said. “I was a bit nervous, but it was nothing terrible. I knew I wasn’t a medal favorite, so I wanted to stake a good race and see what happened.”
American Austin Kleba also skated in his first Olympic race on Saturday. The 22-year-old recorded a time of 35.40, which landed him in 27th. Kleba won his pairing, the first of the event, and then went sliding into the side padding.
The contest was initially delayed for ice maintenance and started approximately 15 minutes late.
Women’s team pursuit
The women’s team pursuit quarterfinals kicked off the night’s competition at the Ice Ribbon.
Eight teams skated with four advancing. The quarterfinal was a time trial, and the next two rounds will involve head-to-head races.
“I am very happy we passed the quarterfinals and broke the Olympic record, which will give us more confidence for our following races,” Miho told the media after the race.
The Japanese team won the gold medal in 2018 with a time of 2:53.89.
Canada finished with the second-best time. Isabelle Weidemann skated two days after earning a silver medal in the women’s 5000m.
“I think it was one of our worst team pursuits,” Wuest said after the race. “We really have to sit together and look into it as we have to improve, big time.”
The ROC bested China by 2.92 seconds for the final spot in the semifinals.
The United States won the bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics but did not qualify for 2022.
Speed skating returns on Sunday for the men’s team pursuit quarterfinals and women’s 500m competition.
Erin Jackson and Brittany Bowe will race for the U.S. in the 500m while the American team of Joey Mantia, Casey Dawson, Emery Lehman and Ethan Cepuran will look to reach the semifinals in the team pursuit.
Coverage begins at 8 a.m. ET Sunday morning. See a full speed skating schedule here.
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