Canada’s second medal of the Olympic Games came down to just 0.03 seconds.
In a tight 3,000-metre race, Kristina Groves held on to win the bronze medal at the Richmond Olympic Oval on Sunday.
Groves, of Ottawa, raced in the second-to-last pair and finished with a time of 4:04.84, putting her in third place with two skaters remaining.
With one lap to go, Daniela Anschutz Thoms of Germany was on pace to beat Groves. As she came around the final turn, it looked like she might just have enough speed to take the bronze.
Instead she crossed the finish line at 4:04.87, not fast enough to pass the Canadian.
Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic handily won the race with a time of 4:02.53, a new record for the Richmond Oval. Germany’s Stephanie Beckert won the silver medal.
The 33-year-old Groves is currently in fourth place in the 3,000m World Cup standings, and she placed eighth in this event back at the 2006 Olympics in Turin.
It is not even her strongest event, with more medal opportunities coming in the 1,500m and 1,000m races.
Her win marks Canada’s first speed skating medal of the Olympics.
Canada’s flag-bearer Clara Hughes placed fifth, while Cindy Klassen finished in the 14th position.
Klassen, the bronze-medal winner in Turin, missed all of last season after undergoing double knee surgery.
Racing in pair 10 of 14, she started off the race strong and was ahead of the current pace with three laps left, however, she couldn’t hold on and ran out of speed on her final laps.
Fifth is a strong finish for Hughes, whose main event will be the 5,000m race on Feb. 24. She is the defending Olympic champion in that distance.
Sablikova is the World Cup leader in the 3,000m and was the favourite heading into the race. She raced in pair 11 and had to wait to see if her time would hold up through six more skaters.
The Czech did not have to worry, as she beat all other competitors by over two seconds.
A couple of minor delays occurred during the race.
Out to clean the ice after the first seven pairs finished their races, one of the resurfacers broke down and leaked large amounts of water. Officials had to come out to determine the ice was still in good condition, and after the water was cleaned up, the race continued.
The ice also had to be patched up a little bit after the skate of Poland’s Katarzyna Wozniak chipped the ice as she fell at the finish line.