Martina Sáblíková (CZE) collected her 48th career World Cup win to end a two-year- World Cup draught with a gold medal in the 3000m at Hamar's Vikingskipet on Friday. Natalya Voronina (RUS) took home the silver medal and Marina Zueva (BLR) collected her career second World Cup medal with bronze.
Martina Sáblíková (CZE) ©International Skating Union (ISU)
"It's at least two years ago since I last won a World Cup," Sáblíková smiled after her race. The Czech veteran was hampered by a back injury last season and she was happy to have left the medical troubles behind. "I can skate without pain, which is a great feeling.
“I feel very good on the ice, which is a good sign for the 3000m and the 5000m at the World Single Distance Championships in Inzell. But there will be other girls in Inzell, who did not skate here in Hamar, such as Antoinette de Jong and Ireen Wüst (NED)."
With her win Sáblíková also took over the lead in the Ladies' long distance World Cup ranking from her pair-mate Isabelle Weidemann (CAN), whom she left behind from the start. Sáblíková skated solid and steady 31.9 laps in the second part of her race, to finish with a 32.0 lap in 4:02.17.
Weidemann's laps went up to 32 from the third lap onwards and she concluded with 33.0 and 33.3 to stop the clock at 4:08.41 for seventh place.
Natalya Voronina (RUS) ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Voronina clocked 4:03.76 to edge out pair-mate Zueva (4:03.80) in a very close battle for what ended up to be and third and second place. They skated in the second pair from the bottom and Zueva expected to be pushed off the podium by the last four skaters.
Marina Zueva (BLR) ©International Skating Union (ISU)
"It came as a big surprise to me, with those four strong girls coming after me. It's only my second World Cup podium after my silver medal in the World Cup Final at home in Minsk last year."
Voronina climbed to second place in the World Cup ranking, with Weidemann in third place. Esmee Visser (NED) is only one point behind the Canadian in fourth place. The Dutch Olympic 5000m champion was a little disappointed:
"I would have liked to be on the podium here, but those two girls above me [Voronina and Zueva] had the advantage of skating in the same pair and they pushed each other to a better time. I did not give it my all, however.
“This is a good step towards the World Single Distance Championships. I do also want to be on the podium in the long-distance World Cup ranking at the end of the season. That's why I wanted to skate here."