Davis chasing history; Kramer, Pechstein payback

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 18, 2014 at 1:05 pm •  Published: January 18, 2014
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Shani Davis will be chasing history at the Sochi Olympics.

For Sven Kramer and Claudia Pechstein, it's all about making up for the ones that got away.

The longtime star of the U.S. team, Davis has a shot at becoming the first male speedskater to win the same event at three straight Winter Games. He took gold in the 1,000 meters at both Turin and Vancouver.

"Anytime I step out on the ice and I put my hood on, I have something to prove," said Davis, who also claimed silver medals in the 1,500 at the last two Olympics. "It's not easy. These guys are getting stronger and stronger."

The 31-year-old Chicagoan leads what might be the deepest American squad since the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, with Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe also in the mix for multiple medals.

But Kramer and his Dutch teammates look like the ones to beat at the big oval along the Black Sea.

Four years ago, Kramer easily took gold in the 5,000 and would've been on top of the podium in the 10,000 if not for a coaching mistake. He was directed to the wrong lane during a routine crossover on the backstretch and disqualified, a baffling error that makes him even more determined to capture both events in Sochi.

"I want to make it into something beautiful," the three-time Olympian said in a recent interview with the NOS network. "I am not just there for the Olympic spirit. I already have had that."

Even though Kramer is again an overwhelming favorite in the two longest events, he is taking nothing for granted.

Vancouver taught him that.

"Things are certainly not as self-evident as it sometimes seems," he said.

Just ask Pechstein, who is getting ready for her sixth Olympics as she approaches her 42nd birthday.

While the German has five Olympic golds and nine medals overall, her career feels incomplete. She's still miffed about missing the Vancouver Games while serving a two-year ban for doping, a case that didn't involve a positive drug test; instead, the International Skating Union cited irregular blood levels.

Pechstein vehemently denied ever taking banned drugs, spurring her to keep skating at an age when most athletes have long since retired.

"When I was robbed by the ISU of my chance to compete in my sixth Olympics in Vancouver, I swore to myself: You are going to be in Sochi and you are going to try to win your 10th Olympic medal," Pechstein said. "A medal is my dream."

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