Polish Speed Skaters Take Bronze

The Polish women’s speed skating team took the bronze medal in the long track team pursuit on Saturday 27 February at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. The Polish Team of Katarzyna Bachleda-Curuś, Katarzyna Woźniak and Luiza Złotkowska were neck and neck with the American women’s team, who were unable to keep pace with the Poles in the final two laps. Alternate skater Natalia Czerwonka was not awarded a medal, for which she would have needed to compete in at least one race during the games.

The Polish women emphasised that the medal was no “miracle”, but rather the product of years of hard work. “None of us lost her strength at the finish, which was the key to beating the Russians in the quarterfinal and then the Americans”. They trailed the U.S. through in the early laps, only take control as American Catherine Raney-Norman fell behind her teammates Jennifer Rodriguez and Jilleane Rookard.

The gold medal race between Japan and Germany was won by the slimmest of margins — 0.03 seconds —by the German team, which included Anni Freisinger-Postma, daughter of Janina Korowicka-Freisinger, a former Polish Olympic speed skater herself. The Germans trailed midway through the race by a seeming insurmountable two seconds.

This year’s team pursuit events mark only the second time they were included as a medal event, the first being at Torino in 2006. Germany was the winner then too. Only eight nations qualify for the women’s event, making the qualification process especially difficult. Because Czerwonka played a key role in that process, the Polish Ministry of Sport, the Polish Olympic Committee, and the team have announced that she will also be considered a medallist in Poland, receiving the associated scholarship and award money.

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