Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Mass Start for Olympic Speedskating

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Mass Start for Olympic Speedskating

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Harris Associated Press

The big oval is going to get a lot more crowded at the Pyeongchang Games.

Speedskating is spicing itself up with the Olympic debut of the mass start, featuring up to 24 skaters racing 16 laps at the same time. That's quite a change from the traditional time trial format in which pairs race against the clock.

The sport's big names from Shani Davis to Claudia Pechstein to Sven Kramer and Ireen Wust will toe the starting line in pursuit of more gold to add to their glittering collections.

Speedskating begins Feb. 10 with the women's 3,000 meters at the Gangneung Oval, which seats 8,000 and is located in the cluster of venues along the coast.

Here are some things to watch on the big oval:

DON'T MISS

The mass start brings a bit of short track sass to long track. There are four intermediate sprints throughout the mass start. The top three skaters in those sprints earn points, as do the top three crossing the finish line. The medalists are determined by the top three finishers, while the rest of the standings are decided based on the sprint points. During the race, lasting between 7 1/2 and 8 minutes for the men and women, respectively, there will be breakaways, skaters jockeying for position and allout sprints. There may be tactics, too, with countries deciding to work together in an effort to get on the podium. The U.S. is a medal contender in the men's and women's races. Joey Mantia won the world title last season, while Heather Bergsma finished third at worlds. The event closes the competition on Feb. 24.

I, CLAUDIA

At age 45, Pechstein could be a mother to her fellow speedskaters. The German will become the first woman to compete in seven Winter Olympics. She has a chance to become the oldest Winter Olympic medalist in an individual event and the first person to win the same individual Winter Olympic event four times (she won the 5,000 meters in 1994, 1998 and 2002). …

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