The U.S.'s Speed-Skating Medal Drought Ended When Almost an Entire Race Crashed
With superstars like Adam Rippon, figure skating tends to steal the spotlight from the other sports on ice. But what speed skating lacks in general pizzaz and routines set to the Games of Thrones theme song, it makes up for with excitement like the race above, which in under a minute features dramatic crashes, redemptive come-backs, and a happy ending for the US of A.
As the men's 1000m short-track final entered its last lap, a sudden collision sent all the skaters except Canadian Samuel Girard and US skater John-Henry Krueger sprawling across the ice. Girard sped to gold with Krueger close behind, crossing the finish line with what looked less like intensity than disbelief. The US hasn't managed a medal in individual speed skating since the Winter Games in Vancouver eight years ago.
This win was especially surprising because Krueger was close to being eliminated in the quarterfinal round. He was only able to advance after Dutch skater Sjinkie Knegt was penalized. It's possible 22-year-old Girard would have nabbed silver without the other skaters falling, but from here it looks like he was blessed with two huge strokes of luck.
This silver medal is a gratifying shift in the narrative for Kreuger. Back in 2009, he suffered an illness during the Olympic Trials that lead to him missing the Sochi Games and has had trouble making it to the podium of late.
"It's the ultimate redemption. I'm finally able to put away the story about how I was a young kid who had swine flu and ended up missing the Olympics," Krueger said after the race, according to NBC Sports. "Now I'm the young kid from Pittsburgh who came back from an adversity and who ended up being the top in the world."