The cutting edge
When Palmerston North speedskater Shane Dobbin finished seventh in the 10,000m event at Sochi this morning, it was New Zealand's best Winter Olympics result since 1992.
That milestone lasted only about five hours until Jossi Wells' fourth in the first men's freeski halfpipe, just missing New Zealand's first Winter Olympics medal since Annelise Coberger 22 years ago.
Dobbin was New Zealand's first top 10 finish at Sochi and his coach and father, Roy, watching at home in Palmerston North, was more than pleased with the result.
The 34-year-old Shane held the bronze medal position with four skaters to race, but they passed him and the Netherlands completed another medal hat-trick.
"I knew the Dutch would almost be impossible to beat," Roy said. "They could have put five in and all would have made the top 10."
"They have never been this strong. That is the part that's really strange, right across the board."
Dobbin, starting on the outside lane of the second heat against Germany's Moritz Geisreiter, finished in 13 minutes 16.42 seconds, beating his opponent by 3.84 seconds or by almost 100 metres. The German was a world-class skater and had beaten Shane almost every other time they had met.
The winner, Jorrit Bergsma, set a new Olympic record of 12:44 and even cleaned out hot favourite, Sven Kramer.
"Shane had done pretty well to get a top-10 place; he's seventh in the world.
"He gave it everything. He had a good race and obviously would have liked to have gone better."
The Kiwi skater later said on radio he had mixed feelings, that it had come down to only 0.1s per lap over the 25 laps.
"To be honest I fell a little short of my goal placement, but I am proud of what we've done," Dobbin said.
"It is an achievement when you look at what the major countries here are putting into their programmes and we pretty much matched; so it's a proud moment for us."
Shane had told his father two days beforehand he had been posting good times in training at Sochi, had good technique, good rhythm. He was about nine seconds off the bronze medal time of 13:07.
"If he'd nailed everything on the day he could well have done it."
Dobbin had done a faster time but at high altitude and not on the type of ice at Sochi.
"It doesn't matter with the Dutch what type of ice they're on," Roy said.
He felt Shane was just a little short in his technique in finishing his push which would allow him to cruise on the front leg.
That was Shane's last race in a professional career started when he was about 17 years of age in inline skating.
Dobbin was 14th in the 5000m 10 days ago.