German women snatch dramatic speed skating gold | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 28.02.2010
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German women snatch dramatic speed skating gold

The German ladies team put in an unbelievable race to grab a gold medal in the speed-skating team pursuit event at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This came despite Anni Friesinger-Postma's fall in the semi-finals.

Team Germany's speed skaters

Team Germany snagged the gold medal on the final straight

The three-woman speed skating team claimed Germany's tenth gold medal on Saturday evening following a stunning final race against the Japanese team. Stephanie Beckert, Daniela Anschuetz-Thoms and Katrin Mattscherodt crossed the finish line only 0.02 seconds ahead of the Japanese, who dominated the first few laps of the three-kilometer race.

The Japanese team, comprising Masako Hozumi, Maki Tabata and Nao Kodaira, got off to an immense start and soon built up a lead of over 1.7 seconds in the first part of the race - a small eternity on a speed skating rink. The Germans steadily hauled back the advantage, but were still around three quarters of a second behind going into the final lap.

Anna Friesinger-Postma falls across the finish line

Friesinger-Postma threw her skate forward as she scrambled across the line

It was only on the home straight that the medal positions were decided, and it took a photo finish to be ensure Germany's victory.

Semi-final stumble

The victory was all the more remarkable because the fourth member of the German team, Anni Friesinger-Postma, fell on the last corner of the semi-final against the United States, after a nightmarish final lap. The 16-time world champion slid over the finish line on her belly and pounded the ice in despair, convinced that she had ruined her team's chances of a medal.

Thirty seconds later, one could only guess at Friesinger-Postma's emotions as she looked up at the score board and realized she had still done enough to finish 0.23 seconds ahead of the US team.

Following this nerve-racking finish, team coach Markus Eicher decided not to risk the exhausted Friesinger-Postma in the final, which took place only an hour and a half later. In that race, Stephanie Beckert's extraordinary final drive proved the decisive factor.

Friesinger-Postma paid tribute to Beckert's explosive performance in the final, in which she led the last two laps. "That was a rollercoaster for the emotions," she said. "She was our steam engine. She pulled our girls through those two laps." Beckert has already won two silver medals in the individual speed skating events.

Germany's four-man bobsleigh team

Andre Lange finished his career with a brilliant silver medal

Bobsleigh legend quits on a high

Germany also celebrated unlikely success in the men's four-man bobsleigh, where four-time gold medallist Andre Lange finished his 17-year career as a pilot with an astounding silver medal in the final run.

Lange and his team-mates put in the fastest final run, and beat the Canadian team, piloted by Lyndon Rush, to the silver medal by one hundredth of a second. Gold went to Team USA, led by Steven Holcomb. Lange had already won gold in the two-man bobsleigh event.

bk/dpa/SID

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