Canada’s Samuel Girard threw off the disappointment of earlier being penalised in the 1500m final to storm to victory in the men’s 500m sprint A Final at the Audi ISU World Cup in Dordrecht, Netherlands.
In control from the very start, the in-form Canadian flew round the track in 40.767 seconds, relegating his rivals to a fight for silver and bronze. The Netherlands’ Sjinkie Knegt sent the crowd crazy by winning that battle, his dip on the line enough to push Hwang Dae Heon (KOR), the 1500m champion, into bronze medal position by the minute margin of 0.004 seconds.
“It was good. I really controlled the pace from the start. It was the perfect execution of my strategy,” said Girard. “The track was good. I like to compete with these guys.”
While victory completed a Canadian clean-sweep of the 500m – compatriot Marianne St-Gelais took the ladies’ gold – it also helped buffer Girard’s disappointment after falling foul of the officials in the 1500m.
“It was the ref’s call. I can’t change it, it is part of the game,” Girard said. “Thankfully I came out for this event and won it.”
Unsurprisingly, Knegt – for whom the stadium announcer declared ‘Sjinkie time’ every moment the skater stepped on the track – enjoyed himself in the Dordrecht rink.
“It’s amazing to skate in front of such a crowd, it gives me a little bit extra,” Knegt said. “I tried to do my best at the start but I am not always good, so I let him (Girard) go and made my own race. I was surprised I could still finish like that.”
The Dutchman had no idea if he had done enough to pip Hwang, with a photo-finish declared.
“Normally I can tell, but this time I wasn’t sure. When I saw the slow-mo I started to believe,” he said.
Knegt goes in the 1000m tomorrow and leads the Dutch team in the men’s 5000m relay, both events in which he believes he has a chance of “winning a medal”.
There was no B Final, with just two men, Seo Yi Ra (KOR) – the current overall ISU World Champion – and Vladislav Bykanov (ISR) qualifying for it.