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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 25, 2010

DQ'd skater will keep coach

 •  Parise boosts U.S. into hockey semis

By Raf Casert
Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Netherlands' Sven Kramer, right, and his coach Gerard Kemkers react after Kramer was disqualified for failing to switch a lane during the men's 10,000-meter speed skating race on Tuesday.

MATT DUNHAM | Associated Press

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RICHMOND, British Columbia Sven Kramer's trust in his coach can be measured in victories.

"Three times world champion, four times European champion, so many World Cups and Olympic gold in the 5,000 meters," he said.

Kramer was not about to get rid of Gerard Kemkers for one blunder even if it was one of the biggest in Olympic history.

"The past years were simply too good to drop someone just like that," he said on the morning after Kemkers sent him into the wrong lane as he seemed headed to victory in the 10,000 in his usual dominating style. The error was so rare it defied belief.

"Such things can happen to the best of us, but also to the biggest amateurs," Kramer said yesterday after a training session for the team pursuit.

Initial anger and recriminations abated during a conversation Tuesday night when both skater and coach reaffirmed their trust in each other.

"Our talk was not easy, but we both came out of it all right. And that is the most important. I am not the kind of person to stay angry too long," Kramer said.

"It happened. It is done with. It is terrible. The medal is in South Korea and we will never get it back," he said, referring to the victory for Lee Seung-hoon after the disqualification.

IOC president Jacques Rogge felt for both athlete and coach.

"It is true that a successful coach and athlete is like a couple. It is up to Sven to see how he reacts," Rogge said at the Olympic Oval yesterday.

One day later, Kemkers still had not seen the replays on television. He didn't need to.

"It is burned into my retina," he said.

Kemkers was busy writing speedskating code to show how Kramer's race was progressing over halfway through the race when, in a split second, he lost his way.

Coaches monitor changeovers to make sure skaters move inside or out but usually never have to do a thing. Never in his career had Kemkers needed to correct Kramer.

And as Kramer was making a move to go to the outside lane the correct option Kemkers thought for the first time his pupil was wrong. And this in the biggest race of his life.

Not fully convinced, he looked back and saw skater Ivan Skobrev, who had cut inside early in the changeover, and presumed the Russian had to move outside. Wrong again.

With Kramer approaching the red cone at the end of the changeover, Kemkers desperately pointed him inside with one finger, sending his skater straight into a DQ.


Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic captured her second gold medal in Vancouver, adding the 5,000 meters to the 3,000 title she's already won.

"If there was another 100 meters I would not have made it," Sablikova said through a translator.

Stephanie Beckert of Germany got silver, and 37-year-old, defending Olympic champion Clara Hughes of Canada thrilled the crowd by taking bronze.