Poland’s Zbigniew Brodka won gold in the 1500 meters in men’s speedskating today at the Sochi Olympics by three thousandths of a second as Americans continued their poor results even after changing uniforms.
Shani Davis, a four-time medalist for the U.S. who had won 1500 silver medals in the previous two Olympics, finished 11th. Three days ago, he was eighth in the 1000 meters after winning gold in that event at the past two Winter Games.
The race was the first contested after U.S. speedskaters changed uniforms because of concerns their new high-tech Under Armour Inc. suits were slowing them down.
“I’m not necessarily sure what is to blame,” Davis said.
Brodka, 29, who finished 27th in this event at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, won a race so close it was determined by a photo finish. Koen Verweij of the Netherlands had an identical time of 1 minute, 45.00 seconds on the Adler Arena’s giant scoreboards when he finished.
About 30 seconds later, timekeepers announced that Brodka was the winner -- 1:45.006 to 1:45.009. Brodka thrust his arms in the air in triumph as the result flashed on the scoreboards.
“After the finish I didn’t know it right away, because they showed Verweij as the winner,” said Brodka, the first Olympic speedskating champion from Poland. “When I saw I had won, it was an unbelievable feeling.”
Denny Morrison of Canada won the bronze medal in 1:45.22.
Verweij, who skated in the last of today’s 20 pairings, gave the Dutch their 13th medal in the seven speedskating events so far at the Sochi Olympics. Verweij’s silver was the 100th medal for the Netherlands in Winter Olympics history.
“It wasn’t what I wanted, it wasn’t enough,” Verweij said. “I should be happy winning silver, but this feels like a huge loss.”
The Americans continued their speedskating medal shutout in Sochi, where no U.S. skater has finished better than seventh. The U.S. won four medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
The U.S. speedskating team earlier today switched to another racing suit from Baltimore-based Under Armour after a report that the one it was using slowed down athletes. The team voted to revert to the suit worn during the Olympic trials and World Championships from the Mach 39, which the apparel maker had described as the fastest suit in the world.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing three unidentified people familiar with the U.S. team, that the rear ventilation panels on the Mach 39 might be slowing the skaters.
“We are making changes right now with our team on the ground,” Kevin Plank, Under Armour chief executive officer and founder, said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
No problems were discovered with the ventilation panels in six weeks of testing leading up to the games or after they were delivered to the teams in January, Plank said.