Shani Davis slides back to 19th place in Olympic 1,500-meter speedskating race

Marquette Senior High School graduate and former U.S. Olympic Education Center athlete Shani Davis of the U.S., right, and Bart Swings of Belgium compete during the men’s 1,500-meter speedskating race at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, on Tuesday. (AP photo)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The Olympic Oval has turned into the royal House of Orange — and not because Dutch King Willem-Alexander is there most nights. It’s all about the speedskating.

Kjeld Nuis made it four gold medals in four races for the Netherlands, a run nearly beyond belief.

“This is no longer normal,” Nuis said Tuesday after winning the 1,500 meters.

Moving in a blur of orange early on with a blistering pace, Nuis swept past his toughest opponents to take home gold. In second, of course, was another Dutchman — teammate Patrick Roest.

The Dutch have now won eight of 12 medals at the Pyeongchang Games, keeping them on the stunning medal pace set at the 2014 Sochi Games when they finished with 23 out of 36.

The 22-year-old Roest raced with the ruthless abandon of an Olympic rookie and set an early time of 1 minute, 44.86 seconds over a distance where racers either set off fast and try to hold on or pace themselves throughout.

Nuis picked the first strategy and rode it to perfection.

American skaters disappointed again with Joey Mantia finishing eighth and Shani Davis crossing in 19th position, leaving the United States with another bad start in the Olympics after they were shut out in Sochi.

The 1,500 race was seriously affected by the exclusion of world-record holder Denis Yuskov, who is missing because of the Russian doping scandal.

Nuis got a congratulatory message from the Russian and replied, but refused to say what was in it.

On the opening day of the speedskating events, Carlijn Achtereekte won the 3,000. Olympic champions Sven Kramer and Ireen Wust added the 5,000 and 1,500, respectively, making the Dutch 4 for 4.

But don’t count on 5 for 5 today when the women’s 1,000 is scheduled. That looks set to go to Nao Kodaira of Japan, who has been the overwhelming favorite for most of the season.

Then again, Wust, 1,500 bronze medalist Marrit Leenstra and Jorien ter Mors will also line up in orange.