Dutch go for last 2 golds medals in speedskating

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) - The Dutch have turned the individual speedskating races at the Sochi Olympics into a huge orange victory parade, winning 21 long-track medals. On Saturday, they are hot favorites to add two more golds in the closing team pursuits.

Here are five things to watch for in the men’s and women’s team races at the Adler Arena:

NO MORE SWEEPS: Non-Dutch nations take heart. Another 1-2-3 sweep for the Netherlands is impossible. They have had four sweeps so far, but each nation is allowed only one entry in team pursuit, so the medal stand will not be fully orange. In the men’s race, South Korea is assured of at least a silver since it has qualified for the final eight-lap race against the Dutch. Canada faces Poland for the bronze. The women still have to race the semfinals. Japan faces the Dutch in one race, while Russia takes on Poland for the other final berth.

WONDERFUL WUST : Wust could become the undisputed star of the Adler Arena if she wins her fifth medal of the games and her second gold to go with three silvers. She has been in the top two of every race but the 500 meters. “We are confident,” she said. So she should be. She teams up with 1,500 champion Jorien ter Mors and Lotte van Beek who won bronze in the 1,500.

KRAMER’S THIRD: Sven Kramer has been the dominant force in speedskating over the past half dozen years, but he only has two Olympic gold medals to show for it. He famously picked a wrong lane in the 10,000 to get himself disqualified at the 2010 Vancouver Games and crashed during the team pursuit at the 2006 Turin Games. He got gold in the 5,000 here and silver in his favored 10,000. Going into Saturday’s final, he is still tied at two gold medals apiece with his girlfriend Naomi van As, who won field hockey gold in Beijing and London.

DISMAL AMERICANS: The United States ensured it first speedskating medal shutout since 1984 when both the men’s and women’s pursuit teams were eliminated in the quarterfinals. The only consolation for the Americans: They will at least have their highest finish of these games when the women take on Canada in the race to determine fifth and sixth place. The men can finish no higher than seventh.

WHERE ARE THE GERMANS? Two-time defending women’s champion Germany didn’t even qualify for the Olympics this time around, a stunning downfall for the one-time speedskating powerhouse. Like the U.S., both Germany and Norway, which has won more medals in the sport than any country but the Netherlands, will leave Sochi without making even one trip to the podium.

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Follow Raf Casert on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert

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