Germany's Anni Friesinger has broken her own world record on the way to winning the gold medal in the women's 1500 meters speed skating race. It is Friesinger's first medal of the 2002 Games.
Anni Friesinger was skating in the inside lane in the 17th pair of athletes Wednesday at Utah Olympic Oval. She was already the world record holder, but American Chris Witty had set an Olympic record earlier in the meet, and Friesinger needed a good race to win.
In the end, there was no question that the German was the champion. Friesinger sped around the oval in 1:54.022, .36 faster than her previous world record.
It was Friesinger's first medal of these games. She had finished fourth in the 3000 meters and fifth in the 1000 meters race. After Wednesday's victory, the 25-year-old said she focused on winning the event, and did not dwell on her past performances.
"My 3-K did not begin so well. And then 1000 meters was my next chance but again I missed the podium. So I thought, hmmm now try to relax," she said. "But I always focused on my technique. At the end, you know, it did work out."
The silver medal went to another German skater, Sabine Voelker, who finished .95 behind Friesinger. It was her second silver and third medal overall of the Games.
American Jennifer Rodriguez, a former in-line skater from Miami, Florida, skated to the bronze medal (1:55.32) in the day's final pair. It is her second bronze of the Olympics, and she said she was completely satisfied with her performance.
"I am happy with this race," she said. "And now that I look back and I do have two medals, it's awesome. Four years ago I would have never thought this was going to be possible."
American Chris Witty, the gold medallist in the ladies' 1000-meters race, finished fifth.