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2014 Olympic speedskating: Maria Lamb punches ticket to third Winter Games

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With just one berth available on the 2014 U.S. Olympic speedskating team for women competing in the 5,000 meter event, two-time Winter Games representative Maria Lamb held off stiff competition from her fellow skaters to finally punch her ticket to Sochi at the Olympic trials on Jan. 1.

Lamb dominated her heat, easily out-pacing competitor Anna Ringsred, who made the Olympic team in the 3,000 meter event, early on in the race. With two laps remaining, her time bested that of then-leader Jaclyn Rowe by more than 13 seconds. Lamb ultimately finished her heat with a time of 7:13.47 with a single skater, Petra Acker, standing between her and a spot on the team.

Acker, 20, skated a consistent race, but fell short of Lamb's mark, finishing her heat with a second place time of 7:20.54.

Lamb, 27, previously competed at the 2006 Torino Games and the 2010 Vancouver Games. Her qualification for the 5,000 meter event makes her the eighth and final member of the 2014 women's Olympic speedskating team. The nation's other representatives include Ringsred, Brittany Bowe, Lauren Cholewinski, Kelly Gunther, Heather Richardson, Jilleanne Rookard and Sugar Todd.

During a post-race interview on NBC, Lamb called the distance her "best" and "favorite race" and revealed that she'd spent the previous days struggling with a throat infection that landed her in the emergency room. She was pleased to have posted the winning time despite the challenges of her illness.

Women's speedskating action at the 2014 Sochi Olympics begins Feb. 9 with the 3,000 meter event. Lamb will compete in the 5,000 meter competition on Feb. 19.

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