Two-time defending Olympic champion Shani Davis never got in gear, and neither did most of the other favorites on a puzzling day at the speedskating oval. The Netherlands picked up two more medals, with gold for Stefan Groothuis. The winner was fourth in this event in 2010 and a world champion in 2012, but he had done very little since then.
Medalists: Stefan Groothuis (Netherlands), Denny Morrison (Canada), Michel Mulder (Netherlands)
SportsMyriad projections: Shani Davis (USA), Denis Kuzin (Kazakhstan), Tae-Bum Mo (South Korea)
How U.S. fared: Davis was never in it, finishing in 1:09.12 (0.73 seconds back). Brian Hansen was just behind him, 0.82 seconds back. They were eighth and ninth.
Joey Mantia was 15th, 1.33 back. Jonathan Garcia, who rebounded from an extraordinary error at the Olympic trials to claim a spot at this distance, was 2.35 back in 28th.
What happened: The competition got serious with the 16th of 20 pairs to go. The Netherlands’ Stefan Groothuis (1:08.39) and Germany’s Nico Ihle (1:08.86) took first and second.
But everyone was still waiting for the favorites. The Netherlands’ Michel Mulder, the gold medalist at 500 meters. Kazakhstan’s Denis Kuzin, the world champion. South Korea’s Tae-Bum Mo, the silver medalist in the 2010 Olympics and 2013 World Championships. Plus the dark-horse North Americans — the USA’s Brian Hansen and Canada’s Denny Morrison.
Pair 17: Mulder went out quickly with Morrison, but the Dutchman faded. Morrison passed him but just missed the time of Groothuis. After 17 pairs, it was Groothuis, Morrison (0.04 seconds back), Mulder (0.35).
Then all eyes were on the defending champion Shani Davis, along with yet another Dutchman, Koen Verweij. From the start, they were slightly off the pace. Then more. Then more. Then they crossed the line nowhere near the podium.
Pair 19: The door was wide-open for Hansen and Mo, who went … even slower. Hansen was just behind Davis’ time. Mo was slower than that.
Two favorites down. Could Kuzin restore order from the final pair? No! He broke down in tears while the Dutch coaches and fans celebrated as they so often do in this sport.
Some perspective on the winners:
World Cup standings, 2013-14: Davis 1st, Mulder 2nd, Morrison 6th … Groothuis 17th.
Best times, 2013-14: Davis 1st, Morrison 4th, Mulder 5th … Groothuis 20th.