GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) – Norwegian Havard Lorentzen struck gold in the men’s 500 meters speed skating at the Gangneung Oval on Monday after edging out South Korea’s Cha Min-kyu in a dramatic photo finish.
After Cha had broken the Olympic record in a blistering lap, the ice-cool Lorentzen went 0.01 seconds faster, zooming around the track in a time of 34.41. Chinese Gao Tingyu took the bronze medal.
Lorentzen was the first Norwegian to win the Olympic 500m title since Finn Helgesen 70 years ago and he became his country’s first medalist in the event since Magne Thomassen won silver in 1968.
Racing in the 14th pair, Cha stormed out of the gates to send the crowd wild and the Korean brought the house down when he crossed in record time with eight racers to come.
Lorentzen, who was in the third-last pair alongside Sochi bronze medalist Ronald Mulder of the Netherlands, was behind Cha after the first 100 meters, but edged in front over the race.
He ended with a flurry of effort, his arms and legs pumping like pistons, before waiting nervously until the timekeepers put his name up on the big screen.
The Dutch, who swept the podium in Sochi, finished outside the medal places for the second race in succession after their failure to medal in the women’s 500m on Sunday.
Mulder, whose twin brother Michel won gold at the last Olympics but failed to qualify for the Pyeongchang Games, was the highest-placed of the three Dutch skaters in seventh.
Reporting by Simon Jennings, editing by Ed Osmond