Heerenveen, Netherlands

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Thomas Krol (NED) took the first World Cup win of his career in the 1500m at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Heerenveen on Saturday. Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) won his fourth gold of the season in the 500m, while Cheonho Um and Jae-Won Chung managed a Republic of Korean double with gold and silver in the Mass Start. 

Krol surprises himself

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Thomas Krol (NED) won gold in the Men's 1500m 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Thomas Krol (NED) surprised himself and the rest of the world when he stopped the clock at 1:43.78 in the fifth pairing of the Men's 1500m. Joey Mantia (USA) had already set 1:44.09 in the fourth pairing and none of the remaining 10 skaters was able to match Krol or Mantia. Patrick Roest (NED) came closest with 1:44.12 in the seventh pairing to take the bronze medal.

"1:43 is a very special time here in Thialf," Krol said afterwards. "This morning I would not have thought this was possible. 

"I felt that I was very fast from the start. Normally the coaches don't show me the lap times because I always skate the 1500m as if it's a sprint, flat out from the start until I'm totally worn out at the end. For me those lap times have no added value like for an allrounder, who would be able to accelerate, I'm struggling towards the end anyway. But this time the coaches showed me the lap times for my morale.

"I did not expect to be this fast, because we trained for the Dutch championships at the end of the year. I tested new things and I skated on new shoes, so this time really comes as a surprise."

Denis Yuskov (RUS), who had won the two previous World Cup 1500m races he skated this season, came fourth in 1:44.61 and Olympic champion Kjeld Nuis (NED) was fifth in 1:44.62.

Despite finishing 11th in 1:45.23 Seitaro Ichinohe (JPN) retained the lead in the World Cup ranking, with 167 points. Yuskov is second with 163 points and Nuis third with 154.

Kulizhnikov wins again in 500m

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Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) had to race alone but still clocked 34.49 seconds 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) won his fourth 500m World Cup race of the season. The world record holder had to skate alone, because pair mate Kai Verbij (NED) pulled out with a groin injury at the last moment.

Kuizhnikov still managed to clock 34.49. 

"Maybe I could have been faster if I would have had a race opponent, but I don't know what would have been possible," he said afterward

Japan's Tsubasa Hasegawa (34.52) and Yuma Murakami (34.55) took silver and bronze respectively. 

Tatsuya Shinhama (JPN) finished fourth in 34.64 and retained the lead in the World Cup with 339 points. Kulizhnikov is second with 332 points and Håvard Lorentzen (NOR), who finished ninth on Saturday, is third with 292 points.

Rep. Korean double in Mass Start

In the Men's Mass Start Cheonho Um (KOR) and Jae-Won Chung (KOR) took gold and silver respectively with a perfect team effort in the final lap. The Korean duo took advantage of Bart Swings (BEL), who started his attack early, but had to settle for bronze.

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 Gold medalist Cheonho Um (KOR) embraces runner-up Jae-Won Chung (KOR) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Swings said: "I took the lead with 700m to go and I heard a lot of things at my back so I expected others to overtake. When I saw that nobody overtook me, I held back a little and I went flat out with 500m to go. 

"The Koreans are experienced in short-track and they really know how to skate sharp turns at high speed. They passed me on the inside. Luckily enough, no one else did."

Um kept the lead in the Mass Start World Cup with 475 points. Swings is second with 430 and Ruslan Zakharov (RUS), who came fourth in Heerenveen, is third with 366 points. 

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