Canada won its first Olympic gold medal in the women's team pursuit speed skating event on Tuesday at the Ice Ribbon. It set the Olympic record at 2:53.44 in the final against Japan.
The Japanese team earned the silver medal and the Netherlands secured the bronze.
The Japanese led the Canadians head-to-head for the entire gold medal race until the final lap when Nana Takagi fell and slid into the side boards. She stumbled, found herself on her heels and could not regain her balance.
Japan set the Olympic record during quarterfinals and was on pace to do so again. It had a 0.32-second advantage with a half lap remaining.
“My mind hasn’t recovered from the fall," Takagi told the media. "It’s hard for me to think or talk about it right now.”
The Canadians, led by three-time Olympic medalist Isabelle Weidemann, continued their recent winning streak, as they won all three World Cup races this season leading up to the Olympics. They also captured their first Olympic medal in the women's team pursuit since 2006.
"We knew we had a strong team, we knew we could put pressure on Japan and all the other strong teams today," Weidemann said. "I don't know if we'd thought about this possible outcome."
"I don't even know what the medal means to me at this point," Canada's Ivanie Blondin added. "It's everything we've worked towards for the last four years."
Canada reached the final after outlasting the Netherlands in the back half of the semifinal.
The Dutch trio of Ireen Wuest, Irene Schouten and Antoinette de Jong had 18 Olympic medals combined entering the competition but did not find the same rhythm and chemistry Canada had. The Netherlands missed out on the final for the first time since 2010.
"I'm feeling good, but we hoped for more than bronze," Wuest said after the event.
The Netherlands crossed the line 1.8 seconds ahead of the ROC during the B Final to reach the podium.
Schouten secured her third medal of the 2022 Olympics with the bronze, and the 35-year-old Wuest earned her 13th career podium finish, the most by any speed skater.
Japan missed out on becoming the second team to win two gold medals in the women's team pursuit after Germany went back-to-back in 2006 and 2010. Miho Takagi of Japan earned her third medal of the 2022 Winter Olympics after securing two individual silvers.
Speed skating returns on Thursday with the women's 1000m individual race. Check out the full speed skating schedule here.