Lotte van Beek celebrates one of the 16 medals the Netherlands has won in speedskating. Twenty-four have been awarded overall. (Matt Dunham / Associated Press)
They stepped onto the podium, one after another, teammates and friends, all decked out in the same uniform.
And if there had been room for one more, she would’ve been wearing orange, too.
The Dutch, you see, are just racing against themselves at the Olympic speedskating oval.
“They’re on fire right now,” American coach Ryan Shimabukuro said. “They’ve got all the momentum going in their direction.”
The Netherlands has long been a speedskating powerhouse, but the nation of 17 million never has been on a roll like this.
No one has.
All by themselves, the Dutch skaters have pushed their country to the top of the medals table at the Sochi Games. The long-track team has a record 16 medals, the short trackers have chipped in with one, for a total that left the Netherlands — which hasn’t won a medal in any other sport — one ahead of the U.S. and host Russia.
“Our target for the whole team was nine medals for all sports,” Marrit Leenstra said.
Just how dominant have the Dutch been at Adler Arena?
They have swept the medals in three of the first eight events, doing it again Sunday in the women’s 1,500 meters. Jorien Ter Mors claimed the gold with the second-fastest time ever at sea level, giving her a shot at becoming the first skater to win Olympic medals in long and short track. Ireen Wust sounded disappointed with her silver, and Lotte van Beek claimed the bronze by knocking Leenstra out of the third spot in the last pairing.
It was the first time in Olympic history that one country took the top four spots in a speedskating event.
“Unfortunately, there are only three spots on the podium,” Leenstra said.
Eva Samkova won the women’s snowboardcross, leading from start to finish in all three qualifying and elimination races to give the Czech Republic its first gold of the Games.
American Lindsey Jacobellis crashed while leading her semifinal, the third straight disappointing Olympic finish for the eight-time X Games winner.
... Barely 24 hours after Russian racer Maria Komissarova severely injured her spine training, American Jackie Hernandez sustained a concussion when she smacked her head after catching an edge during qualifying. The 21-year-old was treated and released, but barred from competing in the elimination rounds.
Sweden’s victory in the 4x10-kilometer men’s relay came one day after the Swedish women won gold in the same race.
No country has won both relays since the Soviet Union in 1972.
Swedish anchor Marcus Hellner skied alone the entire fourth leg and grabbed a Swedish flag to wave as he entered the stadium.
Russia’s Alexander Zubkov has a commanding lead Switzerland’s Beat Hefti is 0.32 seconds behind — at the halfway point of two-man bobsled.
Zubkov and brakeman Alexey Voevoda drove through a light fog and set a track record on the first run, and completed two trips down the Sanki Sliding Center course in 1 minute, 52.82 seconds.
Sweden and Canada became the first men’s teams to qualify for the semifinals. Norway, Britain and China are battling for the other two spots. The Swedes and Canadians also advanced to the semifinals in the women’s tournament. China, Britain, Switzerland and Japan still have a chance for the remaining two semifinal spots.
First it was the temperatures in the 60s.
Now, it’s the fog.
The men’s 15-kilometer mass start biathlon was postponed until 10 a.m. today because of fog.
... NBC’s Bob Costas plans to make his return tonight after being off the air for a week with an eye infection.
“Today” host Matt Lauer subbed for Costas on Sunday night. Meredith Vieira also has filled in for Costas.
Sunday's podium points
Gold: Princess Anne of Britain, Prince Hakan of Norway and Prince Albert of Monaco have been among the VIPs at the Olympic curling tournament this week. The sport welcomed some NFL royalty last weekend — 49ers Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis, USA Curling’s honorary captain for the Games. “(Curling) is so competitive from a thinking standpoint,” Davis said. “You really have to use your mind, come up with a good strategy.”
Silver: Breakfast at Lindsey’s? Lindsey Jacobellis made her way down the snowboardcross course with some company, Audrey Hepburn. That’s the name of her snowboard. The American snowboard star puts a twist on the guy riders’ penchant for naming their boards after girlfriends (and ex-girlfriends). She names hers after some of Hollywood’s classiest ladies. Waiting offstage just in case: Sophia Lauren and Elizabeth Taylor.
Bronze: When Eva Samkova dominated the snowboardcross final to win the gold medal, a lined mustache on her upper lip begged the question: Hipster or political statement? Turns out the thin lines in red, white and blue — the colors of the Czech flag — were about superstition and patriotism. “It’s a lucky mustache,” she said. “Today, it’s in national colors.” Samkova started wearing the lucky mustache at the World Championships in 2011.
News wire services