- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - History awaits Shani Davis in the 1,000 meters, and the American speedskater relishes the opportunity to burnish his Olympic legacy with a record third straight victory.

Davis could become the first male speedskater to win the same event in three consecutive games when he competes on Wednesday. Already the owner of four Olympic medals, Davis would tie Eric Heiden and Chad Hedrick for the most by an American male speedskater if he gets on the podium.

Here are five things to watch for in the men’s 1,000 at Adler Arena:

DAVIS‘ TRIPLE: The 31-year-old skater from Chicago calls the 1,000 “my baby,” and Davis has been focused on defending his title since his victory in Vancouver four years ago. He won three gold and three bronze medals in the last six single-distance world championships.

“The 1,000 is going to be an intense competition, a lot of people want to win,” he said.

DAVIS‘ RIVALS: Among his rivals are medal contenders Michel Mulder of the Netherlands and current world champion Denis Kuzin of Kazakhstan.

Mulder is looking to join Heiden as the only male skaters to sweep the 500 and 1,000 races at the same Olympics.

Kuzin would be just the second male athlete from his country to win a medal at the Winter Games after cross country skier Vladimir Smirnov, who earned four medals during his career.

Other top skaters to watch are 2010 silver medalist Mo Tae-bum of South Korea, Denny Morrison of Canada and American Brian Hansen. The other two Americans competing are Jonathan Garcia and Joey Mantia.

PAIRINGS: Davis will skate against Koen Verweij of the Netherlands in the eighth of 10 pairs after the ice is resurfaced. That gives Davis the chance to know what time he has to beat, with just four skaters going after him.

Mulder and Morrison are paired just before Davis. Hansen and Mo will skate in the next-to-last pairing, while Kuzin goes against Mirko Nenzi of Italy in the final pair.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: Davis would become the oldest Olympic champion in the 1,000 and the second-oldest medalist in the event after former rival Hedrick, who was 32 years and 306 days old when he earned a bronze in Vancouver. Davis will be 31 years and 183 days on Wednesday.

DOMINANT DUTCH: Stefan Groothuis will try to extend the Netherlands‘ domination of the oval in the 1,000. The Dutch have won eight of the 12 medals awarded so far, including two podium sweeps.

“When I’m good, gold is a real possibility,” said Groothuis, the 2012 world champion in the 1,000. “Of course, Shani is good, but I could name four or five more who are capable of winning gold.”

Groothuis fell in the 500 on Monday and will try to make up for that lapse.

The Dutch already have more medals through the first four days of speedskating than they did in Vancouver, where they won seven.

They have a chance to break the record for most speedskating medals won at the Olympics; East Germany won 13 at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

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