Improper Lane Change: Olympic Skater Loses Second Gold Medal After Coach Directs Him To Wrong Lane

It is a moment that may top the fall of the French skier in the first five seconds of her Olympic run, here. Top speed skater Sven Kramer lost his second gold medal after winning the 10,000m after his coach mistakingly sent him into the wrong lane — resulting in his disqualification.

He did not realize that he had skated in the wrong lane for the final eight laps until after the race. His coach, Gerard Kemkers, sent him to the wrong lane on a changeover when he had clearly won the race. That resulted in Lee Seung-hoon of South Korea winning the gold despite being four seconds slower than Kramer.

That would make for an interesting negligence claim against Kemkers. The problem is that, as Kramer said himself, it is ultimately the decision of the skater on the ice to change lanes. I will, therefore, have to confine my trolling for torts to the defective Olympic medal case, here.

The other skaters were very sympathetic and gracious. de Jong said “Finally I beat Sven, but I don’t want it this way. When he was coming off the ice, I said I was sorry for him, but I didn’t know at that moment what happened. He only said, ‘Kemkers,’ and I didn’t know what that meant.” I could come up with a few likely profane definitions of “Kemkers,” but it turns out to be the name of his coach.

Silver medalist Ivan Skobrev of Russia was particularly gracious and said Kramer “is the best skater in the world. Sven made a mistake. That is his fault. My medal was bronze, but I have silver.”

This moment follows a bizarre moment earlier when Kramer asked an NBC reporter if she was “stupid” when she asked him who he was and what he had won after his gold medal win:


I am impressed by the sportsman-like conduct of all of the skaters, particularly Kramer who took full responsibility despite this devastating loss — it beats recent demonstrations on the squash courts, here.

For the story, click here.

11 thoughts on “Improper Lane Change: Olympic Skater Loses Second Gold Medal After Coach Directs Him To Wrong Lane”

  1. Well I almost had a shot when I was invited to play with the Olympic Hockey team, until I found out the position I would be playing was the puck.

  2. Mike S.,

    I did not know that. I suppose it makes sense. Hey, how’s it going with the grandchildren?

  3. AY,
    You don’t get to be an Olympic athlete unless you are self indulgent and surrounded by those who indulge you. See the NY Times Magazine article on Lindsey Vonn two weeks ago. To be part of the “club” you must buy into the ethos, or be ostracized. The reporter who was called stupid by the way, was, since her job was to do her homework and she didn’t.

  4. Ah but Mike anyone gifted can play ball. Tall, Short, Pudge, Race, almost any age. You get my gist.

    Here the buffoon I believe called stated to a reporter something rather self indulgent.

  5. Considering the “agony of defeat” that closely follows the joys of victories in the Olympics, ofttimes by negligible margins of victory, it is a shame that in its’ fog of greed and commercialism, our emphasis on victory hides the fact that anyone who competes at all represents the upper 1/2 percent of those who practice the sport. If I could have been for instance one of the top 2 million baseball players in the world (ah if only I had the skills) that in itself would be a great accomplishment to me.

  6. Thank you for making the connection to the “are you stupid?” interview moment. At first I felt sorry for him, but now I see that justice has been served.

  7. AY,

    I think history has shown I can (and will) say any number of things to a posting troll. I must confess that “Kemkers” hadn’t crossed my mind.

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