500 race delayed by resurfacing snafu

February, 15, 2010
02/15/10
9:35
PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Weather delays have plagued the Alpine venues here. Monday, rain fell indoors at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Figuratively, that is.

The final 10 pairs of the men's 500-meter speedskating event had to cool their clapskates for more than an hour past the usual ice resurfacing time because one Zamboni machine was broken and another was spreading water unevenly over the ice, at least in the judgment of some of the coaches and officials.

Patient at first, the crowd began to whistle and boo as the delay dragged on and an increasingly animated debate took place inside the track. International Skating Union chief Ottavio Cinquanta seemed especially irritated from afar.

Striding out into the entryway of the Oval in a long black parka just before racing resumed, he told reporters: "There is no risk for the skaters. It seems the ice is safe, so we are doing our utmost to complete the program.''

The second half of the field skated without incident and the times seemed appropriate. Vancouver's track is not a fast one by world standards.

Event results are determined by the combined time of two races. The delay means that the skaters in the first group will have had more time to rest in between, but the top contenders in the event were all in the second group and thus on equal footing. Mika Poutala of Finland had the fastest time of the first race with 34.86 seconds. Americans Tucker Fredricks and Shani Davis stand in 15th place and 18th place at 35.21 and 35.45 seconds, respectively.

Bonnie D. Ford covers Olympic sports for ESPN.com.

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