Olympic speed skating preview: Last pursuit of the gold

Yeah, rub it in, Flying Dutchmen. - Adam Pretty

Speed skating wraps up for the Olympiad with men's and women's team pursuit action. Shocker: the Netherlands are poised to capture more gold.

SB Nation 2014 Winter Olympic Coverage

This is it for speed skating, and we have wonderful news for the rest of the world: the Netherlands can only take two more medals. Saturday features the finals in the last two events: the women's and men's team pursuits. There's also semifinals for the women preceding it all, but as always, it's all about the medals.

The Netherlands has a ludicrous 21 of the 30 medals won in speed skating thus far. Think about that. If the Netherlands took two of three medals in every single individual race, they wouldn't have gotten to 21. Now, while that means the Dutch are basically a mortal lock for gold in the team events, it also means they're a lock for only the gold, since everyone gets just one team. So take that, country that's only going to have 23 of 36 speed skating medals!

The news is not so grand for the United States. Disappointing team performances (in line with an Olympiad full of disappointing individual performances) have officially shut the Americans out of medal contention in all speed skating events for the first time since 1984.

In the women's quarterfinals, the Netherlands set an Olympic record with a time of 2:58.61; no other country broke the three-minute barrier. That sets the stage for a semifinal that could (and should) vault the Dutch into the gold medal race, barring a disaster. At the very least, as a top four team, the Netherlands are already assured a shot at a medal in the finals. They'd obviously like better than that. The women's semifinals start the day's action at 8:30 a.m. ET; their finals go at 9:14 a.m.

Between the women's semifinals and finals are the men's finals, which are scheduled for 8:51 a.m. The Netherlands are -- surprise! -- in the A final, which means they're assured of at least a silver. The last team standing in the way (or skating in the way, we suppose) is South Korea, who actually logged a faster time than the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. The Dutch had a finer semifinal performance by a couple of seconds, but look, if you want to believe there's any drama, you take what you can get.

If you're interested in watching the races live, you'll have to do so online at NBCOlympics.com, as there's no scheduled TV coverage until prime time. With no American teams in medal contention though, we won't be too mad if you just say "eh, the Dutch'll win" and do something else with your time.

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