The world’s best speed skater stunned the Olympics with a sluggish performance in the one event that has eluded him

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Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty

  • Sven Kramer finished sixth in the 10,000m speed skating final, a shocking result.
  • Kramer is considered the best speed skater in the world, but the 10,000 km has eluded him in the Olympics, where he has a silver and disqualification to his name.
  • Kramer was sluggish throughout the race, with the announcers saying he didn’t seem to have a “fight” in him.

Sven Kramer shocked the Olympic world with a surprisingly sluggish run in the men’s 10,000m final at the Winter Olympics.

Kramer, a Dutch speed skater widely considred the best in the world, was looking for redemption after getting silver in the race in Sochi 2014 and being disqualified in Vancouver 2010 for a lane violation. He’s won gold in the 5,000 meter in the last three Olympics, including Pyeongchang.

Kramer was up against stiff competition when he took the ice on Thursday. Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen set an Olympic record to move into first, doing so 10 minutes after Dutch skater Jorrit Bergsma had set an Olympic record.

However, Kramer came out of the gates sluggish, posting 30-second-plus laps early in the race that had NBC’s analyst’s worried if he could catch up. Slowly, he fell from one or two seconds of Bloemen’s time to five or six seconds to eight or nine seconds, as his hopes of a gold medal vanished.

Soon, it became clear that Kramer wouldn’t even medal.

“I’ve never seen him not a have a fight,” NBC analyst and former Olympian Joey Cheek said, “This is incredible.”

The raucous crowd that cheered for Kramer when he took the ice quieted.

“I hate to say this,” Cheek said, “but it’s almost like they’re at a funeral. They’re shocked, they’re just as surprised as us.”

Bloemen could be seen hugging his coaches when there were still five laps to go, clearly in position to win. Kramer finished sixth, 21 seconds off of Bloemen’s time.

“I was fighting and I wasn’t coming in the flow. I had a pretty hard time,” Kramer told media afterward.

The loss is a huge setback to Kramer, who had previously suggested that he was still skating to pursue a gold in the 10,000m. Prior to his race, the commentators wondered if a gold medal in the event would officially make Kramer the greatest speed skater ever. At 31 year old, he may not get a chance to add a gold in the 10,000m to his decorated career.