The only thing that stopped Sven Kramer from pulling off a double long track gold was the rules.
Kramer, the three-time reigning world champion and World Record holder, was disqualified following a lane violation, in what would have been an Olympic mark in the men’s 10,000-metre race.
“Not that I want to point the blame, but my coach said ‘inner lane’ and pointed towards it,” Kramer told Dutch radio and television broadcaster, NOS. “I noticed something was up because of the atmosphere in the stadium.”
South Korea’s Lee Seung-Hoon won gold, skating an Olympic best 12:58.55. Seung-Hoon, starting in the inside lane, surprised everyone by winning an event dominated by the Dutch.
“I’m really happy that I’m one of the first Asian skaters to win this race,” Lee told CTV. “I don’t think I will be able to sleep now that I have the gold medal. I am very happy.”
It was Seung-Hoon’s second medal of these Games, having won silver in the men’s 5,000m race. Russian Ivan Skobrev, the 5,000m bronze medallist, captured the silver, finishing in 13:02.07.
An overwhelming favourite to win the event, Kramer came out of the inner lane on lap nine of 25 and rather than changing into the outer.
He then continued on into the next inside lane. Kramer appeared to be contemplating switching to the outer track, but his coach, Gerard Kemkers, was seen pointing towards the inside lane.
He went on to break Seung-Hoon’s record, and was informed of the mishap by his coach just after crossing the finish line, as he raised his arms in triumph.
The Dutch speed skater, who had already won gold in the men’s 5,000m, flung his glasses into the air in disgust before skating away with his head down.
“I felt so good,” Kramer said. “This was one of, if not the best, race of my life. I wasn’t tired at all.”
The Netherlands’ Bob De Jong, the defending champion in the 10,000m, won bronze in a time of 13:06.73.
De Jong, considered to be the only skater that had a shot at beating Kramer, earned his third Olympic medal after winning silver in 1998 Nagano.
Kramer, the 23-year-old son of two-time Olympic speed skater Yep Kramer, came into the race having not lost in the event in three years.
Canada was unable to qualify a skater for the event, following a disappointing World Cup season.