It may have been a surprising finish for the world record holding team, but Oak Park's Emery Lehman and Glen Ellyn's Ethan Cepuran are both coming home as Olympic medalists.
The suburban skaters were part of the U.S. grouping in the men's team pursuit that finished in third after losing to ROC in their semifinal race, which they were heavily-favored to win. They went on to beat the Netherlands in the bronze-medal matchup.
The United States finished with a time of 3:38.81 in the bronze-medal race.
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Norway, the defending Olympic champions, won the final with a time of 3:38.08 to capture the country's second-straight gold medal in men’s team pursuit.
The U.S. is not traditionally dominant in this event with their lone Olympic medal coming in 2010 when they won silver, however, the Americans recently burst onto the scene behind a revolutionary new technique that opts to use one lead skater rather than rotating skaters. This racing strategy led the U.S. to a world record set in December by Lehman, Joey Mantia and Casey Dawson.
While Lehman sat in the semifinals in favor of teammate Cepuran, that same record-setting lineup returned to the track in the Final B to win bronze over the Netherlands.
These are Lehman’s third Olympics, and he has struggled a bit in Beijing, putting up an 11th place finish in the men’s 1,500 meter race and a 16th place finish in the 5,000 meters.
This marks Cepuran's first Olympics with Team USA, and he will also compete in the mass start event later in these Games.