Speed skater Thomas Krol of the Netherlands will race to claim the title in the men’s 1000m on Friday in hopes of adding another medal to the 10 the Dutch have won so far at the Olympics.
The 29-year-old has the season’s best time and tops the World Cup rankings.
He beat compatriot and previous Olympic champion Kjeld Nuis in the Dutch qualifiers to earn his spot to stand at the start line of the men’s 1000m.
However, he finished behind Nuis in the men’s 1,500m, having to take home a silver medal despite setting the Olympic record during his race.
“I did the best I could. I couldn’t have gone faster. So I’ll just have to admit defeat,” Krol told reporters at the National Speed Skating Oval after his race.
Despite the silver, he remained upbeat about his 1000m race.
“Today’s result really gives me confidence for gold in the 1000m. My dream is to be an Olympic champion and I will do everything I can to achieve that,” the first-time Olympian added.
Ning Zhongyan of China will attempt to stop Krol. Having posted the second-best time this season, all he may need is the home-ice advantage to tip the scales in his favor.
Still, the 22-year-old finished far behind rivals Krol and Nuis in the men’s 1500m in seventh place.
“I am not convinced by my result today,” Ning said after the race. “I have to adjust my mentality for a better performance in the men’s 1000m and men’s mass start.”
World record holder Pavel Kulizhnikov will also be racing, but he has not been able to replicate the success of his record 1:05.69. His best time this season is 1:07.00.
How to watch
The event will begin with the first of 15 pairs skating at 3:30 a.m. ET.
The men’s 1000m will air live on USA Network and re-air on NBC at 2 p.m. ET.
See the full speed skating schedule here.