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Sweden’s top skater rules out defying NHL for Olympic place

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Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson, the only player to make the NHL’s First All-Star Team each of the last three seasons, will not be going to the PyeongChang Olympics.

The Ottawa Senators captain said he will not follow the lead of Russian Alex Ovechkin, who has said he plans to play in PyeongChang despite the NHL not taking a schedule break to send players to the Winter Games.

“You can have guys go and ask their owners if they can go and play,” Karlsson said on Sportsnet on Thursday. “Am I going to do that? Would I like to do that? Yeah, I would like to go to play in the Olympics. But am I going to? I’m not. I’m not going to leave in the middle of February, leave my teammates, go and ask if I can go do something on my own. So yeah, the door is completely shut, unfortunately, for NHL players to go and play in the Olympics.”

Not exactly. Ovechkin could still go, though the NHL hasn’t yet announced what punishments — if any — players and teams would face for Olympic participation.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said his organization and the NHL have a verbal agreement to respect the NHL’s decision and not allow NHL players in PyeongChang, according to Sport-Express in Russia on Friday. That would mean that if Ovechkin is under contract with the Washington Capitals come February, he wouldn’t be allowed to play in PyeongChang.

Another Russian superstar, Evgeni Malkin, recently said he’s still holding out hope to be an Olympic exception.

Both USA Hockey and Hockey Canada are moving on, saying their 25-man Olympic teams will be made up of players not in the NHL.

Karlsson led Sweden to silver in Sochi, tying for the tournament lead with eight points and being named the best defenseman at the Winter Games.

Karlsson had previously declined to discuss whether he would try to play in PyeongChang back in April, when the NHL announced it would not send players to the Olympics for the first time since 1994.

Sweden’s longtime starting goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, has expressed disappointment (like many players) about the NHL-Olympic situation but hasn’t announced whether he will try and go the Ovechkin route. Neither has Sidney Crosby.

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Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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