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Speed Skating Records Fall in Utah - 2002-02-10

It did not take long for a world record to fall at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns during the Winter Games.

The Utah Olympic Oval is at an altitude of 1,425 meters and world records fell in the first international event held here last year. So it is no surprise that a record was broken here Saturday in the men's 5,000 meters.

First it was American Derek Parra bettering the old mark held by Dutchman Gianni Romme. But the Dutch regained the record when Jochem Uydehaage bettered Parra's mark by 3.32 seconds. His gold medal winning time was six minutes, 14.66 seconds.

Romme, who had been the record holder in this event for more than four years, failed to qualify for the strong Dutch team this time. And many thought Dutch speed skaters would sweep this event.

But it was not to be. Derek Parra was one of the eight U.S. athletes who got to carry the tattered World Trade Center flag in the Opening Ceremonies. He said he was still on an emotional high from that experience and he knows it helped him win the silver medal, when he was not even expected to crack the top 10. "I just went out there and tried to skate well. The ice was fast. I could see the times coming," he said. "People were skating really fast times. I said, "I can do that, I can do that. Just stay relaxed." The crowd was there, they were pumping me up [getting me excited]. I started getting a little tired towards the end and [my coaches] kept my laps down [told him to pace himself]. It's probably the best race I've ever had, time wise. It was even [consistent] every lap It's just incredible. An incredible feeling."

Winning the bronze medal in the men's 5,000 meters was German Jens Boden.