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Sochi 2014: Dutch skaters clean up again to maintain spotless display

By Piers Edwards, CNN
updated 3:20 PM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jorrit Bergsma leads home fourth Dutch 1-2-3 in speed skating
  • Vaultier of France wins snowboard cross two months after tearing ligaments
  • Tina Maze of Slovenia wins giant slalom as violinist Vanessa Mae finishes last
  • Russian men keep hockey dream alive with win over Norway

(CNN) -- It's becoming a familiar routine.

The Dutch turn up in Sochi's speed skating arena and duly finish first, second and third.

Once might be notable, twice impressive but when it happens for the fourth time, onlookers are simply left shaking their heads and wondering how it's possible.

As they did again on Tuesday when Jorrit Bergsma took gold in the men's 10,000m in a new Olympic record of 12 minutes 44.45 seconds, ahead of Sven Kramer and Bob de Jong.

Day 11 medal leaders

(G-S-B)

8-3-4 Germany

7-4-7 Norway

6-6-8 Netherlands

6-4-10 United States

5-8-6 Russia

5-2-1 Switzerland

5-0-1 Belarus

4-9-4 Canada

The Dutch have now taken 19 of the 27 medals on offer in speed skating, with their 20th medal also coming in the Adler Arena -- in the short track.

No other country has won more medals at these Games.

"What is the secret? Everybody is asking," Stefan Groothuis, who won speed skating gold over 1,000m last week, told CNN.

"I don't think there's one particular secret. The competitive model in Holland is really high. It's really hard to qualify for the Olympics. We have some more amazing teammates who have stayed at home because they didn't qualify.

"I also think it's a kind of coincidence that everything is coming together at these Games, because at recent World Cups we haven't been dominating so much.

"But everyone is doing it here - and that's awesome. It's a great feeling that so many people in the Dutch team are doing great, so there's a really nice environment in the village."

To find an indication as to why the Dutch are so dominant at the Winter Olympics, one need only visit the history of speed skating page on the International Olympic Committee's website.

"The Dutch were arguably the earliest pioneers of skating," the IOC writes. "They began using canals to maintain communication by skating from village to village as far back as the 13th century.

"The first known skating competition is thought to have been held in the Netherlands in 1676... In 1889, the Netherlands hosted the first World Championships."

So it's no surprise when Groothuis describes the sport as second only to football in terms of popularity among the Dutch.

Meanwhile, De Jong gave a humorous indication of what drove him to bronze.

"I'm really happy. I didn't want to be the only (Dutch) guy without a medal at these Games," he said.

"It's unbelievable how many medals the Dutch team has taken from these Olympic Games. We've already doubled the medals from the Vancouver Games.

"It's not only in Holland that you can make money in speed skating. If you qualify for the World Cup, the government can pay you good money. You can live for your skating."

DEFYING LOGIC

In an event delayed a day by Sochi's poor weather on Monday, Frenchman Pierre Vaultier won gold in the men's snowboard cross, ahead of Russia's Nikolay Olyunin and American Alex Deibold.

Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring Canada's second goal during the men's ice hockey gold medal match against Sweden on Sunday, February 23. Most of us know the Winter Olympics through the power of television, as a spectacle in constant motion. Seeing the Games through still photography is a different experience altogether. Here's a look at the most compelling images from the word's best photographers at Sochi 2014. | More photos: Falling down in Sochi Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring Canada's second goal during the men's ice hockey gold medal match against Sweden on Sunday, February 23. Most of us know the Winter Olympics through the power of television, as a spectacle in constant motion. Seeing the Games through still photography is a different experience altogether. Here's a look at the most compelling images from the word's best photographers at Sochi 2014. | More photos: Falling down in Sochi
Visions of Sochi
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Photos: Visions of Sochi Photos: Visions of Sochi
Canada forward Jonathan Toews fights for the puck in the second period of the gold medal men's hockey game against Sweden on Sunday, February 23. As world-class athletes compete in the Winter Olympics, we expect to see elegant and thrilling performances. But some finishes, in triumph, defeat or just plain exhaustion, often involve landing hard on a cold, wet surface. Here, we take a lighter look at those giving their all for a chance at the gold. | More photos: Visions of Sochi Canada forward Jonathan Toews fights for the puck in the second period of the gold medal men's hockey game against Sweden on Sunday, February 23. As world-class athletes compete in the Winter Olympics, we expect to see elegant and thrilling performances. But some finishes, in triumph, defeat or just plain exhaustion, often involve landing hard on a cold, wet surface. Here, we take a lighter look at those giving their all for a chance at the gold. | More photos: Visions of Sochi
Falling down in Sochi
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