Canadian speed skater Ted-Jan Bloemen faded fast in the men’s 5,000 metres en route to a 10th-place finish on Sunday at the Beijing Olympics.
Bloemen, 35, was the reigning silver medallist in the distance and held the world record until December. But he couldn’t recapture that magic in China, as a strong start quickly gave way to a slow finish over the course of 11 laps at the National Speed Skating Oval, also known as the Ice Ribbon, in Beijing.
Sweden’s Nils van der Poel, the current world-record holder, added an Olympic record to his ledger, winning gold with a time of six minutes 8.84 seconds. The Netherlands’ Patrick Roest took silver in 6:09.31 — also an Olympic record until it was broken by van der Poel. Norway’s Hallgeir Engebraaten earned bronze in 6:09.88.
Bloemen, who resides in Calgary, stopped the clock in 6:19.11. Ranked second in long distances in the World Cup standings, he had been expected to contend for the podium.
WATCH | Bloemen featured in CBC Sports’ ‘Returning Champions’ series:
Instead, like many other skaters on the day, a strategic choice backfired. Skating on the outside track, Bloemen skated his first full lap in 29 seconds flat, before breaking that mark in the next two. But his times ascended in almost every lap from there as the Canadian’s medal hopes slowly dwindled.
By contrast, the eventual champion van der Poel only grew stronger as the race progressed, only overtaking Roest on the final lap. The Swede broke the 29-second mark on two of his final three turns around the rink.
Along with his silver in the 5,000m at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Bloemen also won gold in the 10,000m. He’ll still have the opportunity to defend that title when he returns to the ice on Friday at 3 a.m. ET, though van der Poel stands as a strong contender to take the double.
Bloemen will also skate in the team pursuit in Beijing.