Thursday, February 25, 2010

No To The Netherlands Knee Jerk

Sven Kramer has a right to be pissed. He coach cost him the race.

When Gerard Kemkers told his star skater to switch lanes in the final part of the 10,000 meters, it destroyed any chance for a medal. Despite walloping every opponent in the race, Kramer learned that he was disqualified because his coach told him move to the inside lane. Kramer was in the outside lane...where he was supposed to be. He moved at the last second after his coach screamed at him to switch. Then he got to skate the last few laps knowing something was terribly wrong. He'd won big, yet no one was celebrating.

Kramer heard the news about his disqualification. He threw his glasses and stalked off the ice in frustration. Kemkers just buried his head in his hands.

Speed skating in the Netherlands is somewhat like hockey in Canada. It's their pride and passion. This was no simple little blunder, this was a national embarrassment.

Today, after a difficult meeting supposedly filled with less than pleasant exchanges, Kramer finally made the big decision.

He kept his coach.

Not an easy decision for sure. Imagine a football coach opting to kick a field goal as time expired in the Super Bowl when his team was down by four points. You think there might be some calls for his dismissal?

But Kramer resisted the calls for his coach's head because, despite the gigantic blunder, this was a man who helped coach Kramer up to a world class skater. He'd won several titles before the Olympics and would have won gold if not for the disqualification.

It was a terrible mistake, but it was a mistake. That's it.

Plus, Kramer probably got more attention because of this story than he ever would have if he just won the race. His coach has made Sven a speed skating celebrity.

That's probably little consolation to a man who just lost a gold medal on a technicality, but there was no need for drastic action. Sven Kramer proved that he can be one cool customer.

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