Speed skating preview: U.S. goes for first-ever gold medals in men's team pursuit

Speed skating preview: U.S. goes for first-ever gold medals in men's team pursuit
Posted at 2:54 AM, Feb 14, 2022

The final two rounds of both the men's and women's team pursuit are on tap for Tuesday. Four squads remain in each discipline, and winners will be decided by head-to-head races.

Three skaters at a time from each team will take the ice, as the men race for 3,200 meters and the women for 2,400 meters. 

The United States men's team is in contention for gold medals after setting a world record with a time of 3:34.47 in December. 

Men's team pursuit

The U.S. will take on the ROC in the semifinals, while Norway faces the Netherlands. 

American trio Casey Dawson, Emery Lehman and Ethan Cepuran finished with the second-fastest time during quarterfinals behind the 2018 gold medal-winning Norwegian team. Joey Mantia is also competing for the U.S., and he led Dawson and Lehman during the world record run.

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Typically, teams alternate off who leads the group, but the U.S. has recently kept one skater in front for the entire race. The adjustment has resulted in strong finishes, as the Americans have won two of three World Cup races this season.

The team pursuit competition debuted at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and the U.S. has earned one silver medal since then. No team has multiple gold medals in the event. 

Norway and the U.S. raced together during the time trial quarterfinals, and the former finished 0.04 seconds ahead. The Americans were faster in the second half of the race and nearly swiped the top time. 

"We still have something to improve on for the next race as we had a bit of a struggle in the last couple of laps," Sverre Lunde Pedersen of Norway said. "I think we're looking good for the semifinals."


SEE MORE: ROC bests China in men's team pursuit, advances to semifinal

Women's team pursuit

The Japanese trio of Miho Takagi, Nana Takagi and Ayano Sato set the Olympic record at 2:53.61 to clinch the top spot in the semifinals. They will take on the ROC.

"I am very happy we passed the quarterfinals and broke the Olympic record, which will give us more confidence for our following races," Miho Takagi said. 

The other matchup is the Netherlands against Canada. 

The Canadians grabbed the second-fastest time, while the performance from the Dutch left a sour taste. 

"I'm not so happy with the race," Irene Schouten of the Netherlands said. "I don't know (what happened) yet. We have to analyze it and improve ourselves."

The Dutch have won three of four women's speed skating medals at the 2022 Winter Olympics thus far. Schouten has two after sweeping the long distances, and 35-year-old Ireen Wuest grabbed her sixth career gold medal in the 1500m. 

Japan is the defending gold medalist after setting the previous Olympic record in 2018. It beat the Dutch in the final while the U.S. earned third place. 

The Americans did not qualify for the event in 2022. 


SEE MORE: Japan sets Olympic record in women's team pursuit

How to watch

The action begins at 1:30 a.m. ET and will air on USA Network. 

The women's team pursuit will re-air on NBC at 3:30 p.m. and the men's team pursuit at 11 p.m. 

Find the full speed skating schedule here