Dutch speed skater won’t defend Olympic title after trials miss

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Dutch speed skater Michel Mulder was best in the world at 500m in Sochi by one hundredth of a second. Four years later, he’s sixth-best in his own country.

That means Mulder won’t defend his Olympic title in PyeongChang.

The Netherlands’ Olympic Speed Skating Trials swallowed a Sochi medalist for the second time in as many days Wednesday.

Mulder joined Jorrit Bergsma, who missed the team in the 5000m on the opening day in Heerenveen on Tuesday. Bergsma took bronze in a Dutch 5000m sweep in Sochi but was fourth at trials.

Both could still make the team — Mulder in the 1000m and Bergsma in the 10,000m. Bergsma won the Sochi Olympic 10,000m but has struggled this season. As has Mulder.

Mulder, 31, led a Dutch 500m sweep in Sochi, edging Jan Smeekens by .01 with twin brother Ronald Mulder taking bronze.

Ronald Mulder won the trials 500m in 34.49, followed by world sprint champion Kai Verbij and Smeekens, the reigning world 500m champion.

Ronald Mulder, the current World Cup 500m leader, and Verbij are virtually guaranteed Olympic spots, while Smeekens will likely also get in.

Michel Mulder hasn’t made a World Cup podium in more than three years. In summer 2016, he ruptured an ankle ligament while attempting a high jump in a Dutch TV special ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Threats to another Dutch 500m sweep in PyeongChang are Russians Pavel Kulizhnikov and Ruslan Murashov, who own the two fastest 500m times ever.

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MORE: Broadcast schedule for all U.S. Olympic Trials