Denmark’s best opportunity for a medal at this year’s Winter Olympics will come on Saturday when speed skater Elena Møller-Rigas steps onto the ice of the Gangneung Oval, South Korea.
So far Denmark hasn’t notched up a single medal in the games. However, there is a good chance this will change over the weekend with Møller-Rigas, 22, in strong contention.
The speed skater’s best performance came recently in December 2017, when she placed fifth and second in the Ladies Mass Start event at the ISU World Cup.
Møller-Rigas, currently ranked fourth in the world, will compete in heats scheduled to start on Saturday at 12:00 in Denmark. If successful, she will take part in the final later in the day.
Who is Elena Møller-Rigas?
Born and bred in Copenhagen, Møller-Rigas’s mother was the chair of the Danish Skate Union and the driving force behind nurturing her talent and interest in the sport.
Despite this, she first gained success as an inline skater – a sport in which she ranked seventh in the world in 2016. She was also junior European champion on three occasions.
She switched to speed skating in 2010, training for the discipline in tandem with her inline skating with the ambition of one day becoming an Olympian.
In 2016 she received a Denmark Olympic scholarship presented to athletes who have the potential to compete in a games.
Her 2017 results demonstrated her ability to compete at the highest level, and she was subsequently awarded the position of Danish flag bearer.
What is a mass start event?
The mass start speed skating event in which Møller-Rigas will compete has featured only once before – in the 1932 games in Lake Placid, USA.
The discipline was added in 2015 along with alpine skiing team events, curling mixed doubles and the snowboard big air competition.
The winner of the race isn’t the first skater to finish, but rather the racer who picks up the most points during four sprints staged over the 16-lap, 4,800,metre distance.
The race typically starts with the skaters forming a peloton, but it isn’t long before they are all jockeying for position ahead of the first sprint.
Should Møller-Rigas make the rostrum, she’ll be the first Dane to ever win an individual medal, following in the footsteps of the women’s curling team, which won silver in Nagano in 1998.