Shane Dobbin skates to seventh in 10,000m

TOP FINISH: Shane Dobbin completed his men's 10,000m heat in 13:16.42 to finish seventh, New Zealand's best finish to date in Sochi.
TOP FINISH: Shane Dobbin completed his men's 10,000m heat in 13:16.42 to finish seventh, New Zealand's best finish to date in Sochi.

Shane Dobbin was happy with his seventh placing in the men's 10,000m speed skating at the Winter Olympics this morning.

In the spectacular Adler Arena, somewhat fittingly fitted out in bright orange palate for an event that has been overwhelmingly dominated by the Dutch, Dobbin was very close to perfectly executing his race plan finishing with a time of a time of 13.16.42.

''After the race I was a little disappointed, I was shooting for a top five,'' he told Fairfax Media.

''I missed out by a couple of spots, but after a bit of time to digest it all, I'm pretty happy.''

Dobbin was ranked 10th in the world going into the Olympics.

''My ranking going into the Olympics probably wasn't as high as it should have been. I had a slow start to the season, but we managed to turn it around.''At speeds reaching up to 70 kmh Dobbin raced under 31.5 seconds per lap until the tenth lap where he slowed slightly to 32 seconds per lap.

Slower than usual ice in the Adler Arena saw Dobbin drop back slightly on lap times, and racing early removed the advantage later skaters had of adjusting race tactics.

''The ice was different today than it had been for the last eight days. As soon as I got out there and did my warm up I knew it was slower than it had been running. A couple of the guys were caught out and tried a schedule that was too fast for the ice conditions. At the end of the day, it's the same for every athlete.''

In spite of the drop in speed, Dobbin maintained his technique to the end and times indicated the entire field was feeling today's change in ice conditions, with the majority of athletes dropping lap times towards the end.

Dobbin's coach and brother, Kalon Dobbin said conditions had really dictated proceedings.

"He was hoping to be able to pick it up a little at the 10 lap mark but just knew he had already given what he could. But Moritz [Geisreiter] was already struggling already so we knew it was tough out there. As per his training he was able to draft, helping him pick up his lap times and he managed to hold his technique right to the end. Our training paid off."

Dobbin had been paired with tall German skater Moritz Geisreiter who had been unable to maintain a strong lap time throughout the race eventually finishing behind Dobbin at 13.20.26.

With the Netherlands team taking a clean sweep of events in the Adler Arena, Dobbin knew the podium was an outside chance. His aim was to be among the best of the rest.

Holding the winners spot until the fourth pairing and then dropping back to third after the fifth, it was a nerve-racking wait his final place at seventh was confirmed.

The smooth technique of the skaters belies the extreme effort the 10,000m race takes, and Dobbin said that as his vision and hearing were fading by the end of the race. The enthusiastic support the Kiwi contingent in the stands helped push him through.

"It's refreshing, the hometown support. When your vision is gone, and your hearing starts to go, it is just those little things that really make a difference, I really appreciate it a lot."

Favourites Jorrit Bergsma (12.44.45 OR), Sven Kramer (12.49.02), and Bob de Jong (13.07.19) from the Netherlands took gold, silver and bronze respectively, bringing the Dutch to a total of four clean sweeps in speed skating at Sochi 2014. The team also broke the Olympic record during the event, twice. 

Dobbin, a former inline skater from Palmerston North failed to qualify for this event at Vancouver 2010  and entered this Olympic Games ranked 10th. 

Dobbin's season best was 13.32.46 and his personal best, achieved at altitude was 13.04.36. making today's result his best, delivered at sea level.