Irene Schouten of the Netherlands won all three long distance World Cup races she competed in last year and went two-for-two at the Dutch Olympic Trials.
Schouten continued that dominance by setting an Olympic record in the women’s 3000m to win her first career gold medal at the Winter Olympics.
The 29-year-old re-takes the ice on Thursday in the 5000m event, the longest women’s speed skating race at the Olympics.
“I had a lot of pressure, from the Netherlands, from myself,” Schouten said after her 5000m win. “This has been a dream ever since I was young. That I can call myself an Olympic champion on an individual distance is something no one can take away from me.”
Five women have won both the 3000m and 5000m races at the same Winter Olympics, one of whom will compete against Schouten.
Czech skater Martina Sablikova accomplished the feat in 2010 and remains a player for the podium at 34 years old. She has medaled in the 5000m at three straight Winter Olympics and finished second at the 2020 World Single Distances Championships. The ROC’s Natalya Voronina bested Sablikova at the 2020 event and finished second behind Schouten in 2021.
Voronina is also the last skater to defeat Schouten at the 5000m back in 2020.
Canadian Isabelle Weidemann, 26, has made her mark in long distance recently. She won the 3000m Olympic bronze medal on Saturday and finished fourth at World Championships in the 5000m last year.
Six pairs will skate 12.5 laps around the 400-meter oval. Each athlete gets one attempt to set the fastest time.
Schouten is performing in the final duo with Italy’s Francesca Lollobrigida, who earned the 3000m silver medal last weekend. Weidemann is in the fifth pair with 21-year-old Norwegian skater Ragne Wiklund.
No Americans are skating on Thursday.
The race begins at 7 a.m. ET. It will re-air on USA Network at 1:30 p.m. ET.
See NBCOlympics.com for the full schedule.