Patrick Roest of the Netherlands set an Olympic record in the fifth pairing of the men's 5000m speed skating event on Sunday.
His reign did not last, though, as Sweden's Nils van der Poel surpassed Roest in the final pairing of the event to win his first gold medal.
Roest finished in second place with a 6:09.31 time. Van der Poel lowered the record 6:08.84.
Hallgeir Engebraaten, a 22-year-old skater from Norway, won the bronze medal with a time of 6:09.88.
Van der Poel is the first Swedish athlete to win the men's 5000m Olympic gold since Tomas Gustafson in 1988.
He was trailing Roest's pace for the entire race until the final stretch. Van der Poel was 0.99 seconds behind the Dutch's mark entering the closing 400m. His pace was only the fourth fastest through 3800m, and he made up a lot of ground very quickly.
“I was keeping it steady and feeling confident halfway through the race," van der Poel said in a press conference. “But when the second 9.3 came up, I thought 'I’ve got to go now'. I was launching for it. It was the Olympic race, that was all I had.”
The 25-year-old Swedish skater finished 14th in the same contest at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Van der Poel then spent a year serving in the Swedish army, returning to the sport in 2020. He set the world record last December.
Roest felt that he started well, but was disappointed in his finish.
“It was a good race until the end," Roest said. "I tried everything but on the laps I wanted, I couldn’t do the times I wanted."
Final run for a legend
Sven Kramer of the Netherlands entered the 2022 Winter Olympics as the three-time defending gold medalist in the 5000m. He said last week that defending his title was going to be difficult. He is 35 years old and had back surgery in May.
Kramer finished in ninth place with a 6:17.04 time, well off his Olympic record-setting 6:09.76 time in 2018.
"I tried to go for all or nothing, and I knew that I had to skate around 6:10 for a podium," Kramer said. "I could have skated safely around 6:12, 6:13, but that won't give you anything."
He did not want to coast in the final Olympic 5000m race of his career. He reiterated that message on Sunday.
"When I went to the rink, I knew this was the last time I would skate the 5000m," Kramer said.
Kramer is the all-time leader in men's speed skating Olympic medals with nine, and he will have opportunities to win more in the team pursuit and mass start competitions.
No American has won a medal at this distance since Chad Hedrick took the gold in 2006.
The next speed skating event is the women's 1500m. Brittany Bowe will skate for the United States in pursuit of her first individual Olympic medal.