Lorentzen puts Norway back on Olympic speedskating map

Pyeongchang Olympics Speed Skating Men_568229

Cha Min-kyu of South Korea celebrates after setting a new Olympic record during the men’s 500 meters speedskating race at the Gangneung Oval at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) Traditional speedskating power Norway is back on the top step of the podium at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Havard Lorentzen won the 500-meter gold medal Monday at the Gangneung Oval in an Olympic record time of 34.41 seconds. He beat Cha Min-Kyu of South Korea by 0.01 seconds.

Cha, who had equaled the Olympic mark earlier in the final, took silver ahead of 20-year-old Gao Tingyu of China, who finished in 34.65 seconds.

Three years after a Dutch sweep in the event, none of their three skaters made it on the podium this time. Ronald Mulder, the twin brother of 2014 Olympic champion Michel Mulder, was the best skater in orange, finishing in seventh place.

Lorentzen is the first Norwegian champion over the distance since Finn Helgesen won at the 1948 St. Moritz Games.

Cha set the 8,000-capacity oval alight when he equaled the Olympic record that Casey Fitzrandolph had set at altitude during the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

It was a huge surprise, which set the other favorites with a massive challenge to match it. With ice conditions worsening, it was only Lorentzen who was up to the task.

He was slower out over the opening straightaway but once he got his stride going, he got closer and closer. With a final lunge at the line, he finished one-hundredth of the second inside the South Korean’s time for a victory Norwegian speedskaters had long been waiting for.

It was the first speedskating gold medal for the country since Adne Sondral won the 1,500 at the 1998 Nagano Games.

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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