The Dutch speed skating federation put Sven Kramer on its Olympic team, choosing the nine-time Olympic medalist while leaving off skaters who had a higher overall classification ranking from its Olympic trials.
Kramer, 35 and the most decorated male Olympic speed skater in history, is ticketed for the 5000m, which he won at the last three Olympics, the team pursuit and the mass start in Beijing.
Kramer was on the bubble after placing third in the 5000m at trials, his lone event at last week’s competition.
That left his fate in the hands of a selection committee, which deemed Kramer valuable for the team pursuit and mass start. The committee chose Kramer and Marcel Bosker, who was fourth in the 5000m, for the team pursuit and left off Dai Dai N’tab, who finished second in the 500m at trials, and Tijmen Snel, who was third in the 1500m.
The Dutch qualified the maximum three spots for each of the 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 5000m and maximum two for the 10,000m and mass start, but overall roster sizes in speed skating are limited to at most nine skaters per gender.
The Dutch federation created a matrix before the trials to rank skaters by the nation’s medal chances in each event. If selectors chose the nine-man team directly from the matrix, N’tab and Snel would have been in, and Kramer would have missed it by one spot.
But Kramer expressed confidence after his third-place finish at trials, knowing his value in the team pursuit. The Dutch federation had leeway to choose lower-ranked skaters in the matrix for the pursuit and the mass start, which are distance races that favor Kramer and do not suit N’tab and Snel.
N’tab said he is angry and claimed unfairness, according to De Telegraaf.
The federation didn’t deviate from its matrix in choosing its nine-woman team. That means that Ireen Wüst, the most decorated Olympic speed skater with 11 medals, is going to her fifth and final Games, too.
Wüst finished second in the 1500m and third in the 1000m at trials and was also selected for the team pursuit by the federation.
Wüst, 35, will tie retired Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen for second place on the career Winter Olympic medals list if she wins two to bring her total to 13. If she wins three, she will move one shy of the Winter Olympic record held by retired Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen.
Two of the six Dutch skaters to win gold in 2018 did not make the team — Jorien ter Mors (1000m) and Esmee Visser (5000m).
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