Danila Semerikov (RUS) surprised a packed Thialf Stadium – and himself – by winning the Men's 5000m in track record time at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating on Sunday after Kjeld Nuis (NED) had taken revenge for his disappointing 1500m result on Saturday with gold in the 1000m.
Miracle win for Semerikov
Danila Semerikov (RUS) wins the 5000m 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
When Danila Semerikov (RUS) took the ice in the Men's 5000m, the crowd's favorite Sven Kramer (NED) had already skated 6:10.61 to mark his return from a back injury, and world allround champion Patrick Roest (NED) was in first place with 6:09.82.
Nobody expected the 24-year-old Russian to outskate the two Dutchmen, not least Semerikov himself, who had never won an individual World Cup gold.
But not only did be beat the two Dutchmen, his time of 6:08.96 also managed to break Roest's Thialf track record by 0.02 seconds. Roest and Kramer had to settle for silver and bronze.
Semerikov also shaved five seconds off his own personal best (6:14.01, skated at the high altitude track in Calgary), producing exceptional acceleration towards the end of his race. He skated his last three laps in 28.2, 28.1 and 28.8. Roest and Kramer did not manage to clock a sub-29 lap in the second part of the race.
"This was a miracle for me. I did not expect this at all," Semerikov said.
Semerikov is flanked by silver medalist Patrick Roest (NED) and bronze medalist Sven Kramer (NED) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
"I knew the times of the others before I entered the rink and I aimed at 6:14. When I had four laps left, my coach told me I was in second place and I knew that would be 6:10. I was surprised but then I knew I could win."
Semerikov explained that his win was a long-term plan coming to fruition. "We've been following the same plan for three seasons with the Russian long distance skaters and it pays off. We also have some new people in the team, who came from short track like Sergey Trofimov and Ruslan Zakharov. That has helped us too. We go faster step by step and this was the first time I could show myself 100 percent."
Revenge for Nuis
Earlier on Sunday, Kjeld Nuis (NED) made up for his disappointing fifth-place finish in the 1500m the day before. In the 1000m he was paired with teammate Thomas Krol (NED), who had won the 1500m on Saturday.
Krol got a false start initially, but when the two got under way for the second time, Nuis took a 0.4 second lead over his pair-mate in the first 200m. The Olympic champion took full advantage of Krol at the final cross-over and came close to his own 2017 track record (1:07.64), when he finished in 1:07.80.
Krol could not repeat Saturday's burst of power and had to settle for fifth place in 1:08.40. Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) took silver in 1:07.93 and Denis Yuskov (RUS) collected the bronze medal in 1:07.95.
Teammates and pair-mates Thomas Krol and Kjeld Nuis in the blur of battle in Heerenveen (NED) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Nuis was pleased to be back on top, saying: "This definitely was a revenge for yesterday. I'm always looking for a balance between being too eager and being too relaxed. Yesterday I was too loose. I thought a little too easy about it and today I had the fire burning."
He was not pleased with the false start. "Yesterday we also had a false start and I did not agree. I've looked back at the footage and I'm convinced it was not a false start and today it happened again. I don't want to say that I would have skated a track record, but it costs one or two tenths of a second."
World Cup leader Kai Verbij (NED) did not start in the 1000m due to a groin injury. He dropped to fourth place in the ranking. Håvard Lorentzen (NOR), who took fourth place in 1:08.40 on Sunday, took the lead with 177 points from four races. Nuis, who skipped the third World Cup in Poland last week, climbed to second with 174 points. Kulizhnikov also has 174 points, but he is third because he has won one race, while this was Nuis’s second victory.