Sven Kramer, the most decorated male Olympic speed skater with nine medals, placed third in his lone event at the Dutch Olympic Speed Skating Trials.
He must wait and see if that’s good enough to make a fifth and final Olympic team at age 35.
Patrick Roest, a three-time world allround champion, won the 5000m on the opening day of trials. Jorrit Bergsma, the 2014 Olympic 10,000m champ, followed, 2.49 seconds back.
Kramer, who won the last three Olympic 5000m titles, was another 3.64 seconds behind in an earlier pair.
While the Netherlands can enter three men in the Olympic 5000m, a nation can enter no more than nine speed skaters per gender total at the Olympics.
With five individual races per gender, plus the mass start, that’s a problem. Only Roest is so far qualified for the Olympic team.
Bergsma occupies the 11th spot in the Dutch Olympic team matrix, so he needs two male skaters to make the team in two events (or one in three events). Kramer takes the 14th spot in the matrix with his third-place finish, though he and Bergsma could also be put on the team for the team pursuit.
Kramer was shown on a camera banging his hand against a wall after Bergsma in the last pair pushed him from second to third place. Later, he was smiling in a live interview on Dutch broadcaster NOS, which reported that he expressed confidence about making the team.
Kramer was an unknown going into trials. He had offseason back surgery, then was fifth at the Dutch World Cup team trials in October.
He raced one World Cup, placing ninth in a B division 5000m before leaving the circuit to focus on training ahead of Olympic Trials.
Earlier, the reigning Olympic women’s 1000m champion, Jorien ter Mors, failed to qualify for the Dutch team outright in that event.
Ter Mors, who in PyeongChang became the first woman to win Olympic medals in two different sports at one Winter Games (short- and long-track speed skating), was fifth in a race won by Jutta Leerdam. who took silver and gold at the last two world championships.
Ter Mors, 32, has been sidelined in this Olympic cycle by ankle and knee injuries.
Ireen Wüst, the most decorated Olympic speed skater with 11 medals, was third in the 1000m. She must wait to see if there are enough overall spots on the team for her to qualify in that event, the shortest one that she races.
Wüst, a 35-year-old going for her fifth Olympics, has her best event, the 1500m, on Wednesday.
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