MILWAUKEE — Eric Flaim broke an eight-year-old track record held by Eric Heiden to win the first men's 5,000-meter race Sunday night in the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials.
Flaim, 20 and aiming to make the team in all five men's events, finished the race at the Wisconsin Olympic Ice Rink 7:07.02 to break the mark of 7:09.08 set by five-time Olympic gold medalist Heiden in 1979.
"To get a record from Eric Heiden is pretty special in itself," said Flaim of Pembroke, Mass.
"I could just taste it. With two laps to go, I just kept my arm down and kept cranking. It took a lot of years for the record to go down."
In the women's trials, Bonnie Blair raced to her fifth first-place finish in as many races by capturing Sunday's 1,000 meters.
Blair, of Champaign, Ill., has now won two of the four scheduled 500-meter races, two of the three 1,000-meter races and one of the 1,500-meter races at the halfway point of the trials.
The trials will resume Friday, Saturday and Sunday when the team, which can have a maximum of 20 members--12 men and 8 women--will be announced. Blair won Sunday night's 1,000 meters in 1:24.27. She finished the event in 1:25.14 Saturday night.
Dan Jansen of West Allis, Wis., won the men's 1,000 meters and has now won three of the four trials in which he has competed. Jansen finished the 1,000 in 1:17.09, more than a second faster than his 1:18.75 Saturday night. Jansen also won both the men's 500 meter-races. Flaim finished second in the 1,000 meters in 1:17.69.
David Cruikshank, who won the 1,000 meters Saturday night, finished third in 1:17.83.
In the women's 3,000 meters Sunday, Leslie Bader took first in 4:44.85 while Leslie Docter, a two-time Olympian from Madison, Wis., took second in 4:45.02.
Officials said Sunday that Nick Thometz, the world record holder in the 500 meters, was to be released from a Milwaukee hospital Sunday night.
Thometz, who has now missed the first three days of the trials, was admitted to the hospital with low blood platelets.
The Minnetonka, Minn., native is expected to skate Friday night in the 1,500-meter trials so he can still be considered for the team in that event.
He missed the first 1,500-meter trial Friday night.