Sven Kramer appeared to have the race locked up. On Feb. 23, the Dutch long-track speedskater, who had cruised to a gold medal in the 5,000-m race earlier in the Olympics, was leading the field by over six seconds with just eight laps left to go in the 10,000-m race, in which skaters glide around the oval 24 times. But Gerard Kemkers, Kramer’s coach, mistakenly thought his pupil hadn’t executed a required lane change. “Inner lane,” Kemkers shouted at him; a confused Kramer switched again, and the ensuing disqualification cost him a gold medal. The crazed Dutch speedskating fans fell silent. Given the sport’s revered status back in the Netherlands, the Chicago Tribune wrote that “this was Derek Jeter hitting a World Series–winning home run … and then forgetting to touch third base rounding the infield.” Despite the heartbreaking gaffe, Kramer says he won’t fire Kemkers. “I am not the kind of person to stay angry too long,” he says. In the moments after the historic gaffe, however, he looked as if it would take a long time to get over it.
Olympic Highs and Lows