Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR) took charge in the long-distance World Cup with a solid 5000m win in front of a very enthusiastic home crowd on Friday. The Norwegian was the only one to keep all his lap times under 30 seconds to finish in 6:16.16. Aleksandr Rumyantsev (RUS) took silver and Olympic 10,0000m champion Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) took bronze to qualify for the World Cup final in Salt Lake City by the skin of his teeth.
Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR) ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Pedersen started in the final pair against Sergey Trofimov (RUS) but the Russian got left behind early on in the race. "My race plan was to skate 29.8 or 29.9 laps and keep it up towards the end. I saw the other guys struggling in the final laps," he said.
Cheered on by happy fans dressed in Norwegian colors, Pedersen managed to finish with a 27.9 lap to stop the clock at 6:16.16. "It was a good race. It's always nice to skate in Hamar. Hopefully we'll have a full house here next year [for the ISU World Allround & Sprint Speed Skating Championships]."
First Pedersen will travel to Inzell for this season's ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships. "This gives me a lot of confidence. I'll focus on the 5000m and the Team Pursuit in Inzell, but I'll also skate the 1500m and we'll see about the 10,000m"
Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Another skater who's already looking forward to next season is Ted-Jan Bloemen. The Canadian took his first World Cup medal of the season. After having won Olympic 10,000m gold last season he took a break in springtime and did not manage to get back in shape before the Speed Skating season. He was happy to finish third in 6:20.44, which got him to eleventh place in the ranking, and the best twelve skaters qualify for the Final.
"I've worked very hard over the past months after the first four World Cups and this was a little test where I stand right now. It was a good race. Beforehand I had a quick glance at the World Cup ranking and I thought that I had to take at least a podium spot to qualify for the World Cup Final, and it worked out well.
"But to be honest, I don't think I'm good enough to win a title this season. With a good summer I'm aiming to be back next year. For this season I hope to do well at the World Allround Championships in Calgary, not to win, but to skate some good races in front of a home crowd."
Aleksandr Rumyantsev (RUS) ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Rumyantsev also worked hard these past few months and it paid off when he took silver in 6:19.24. "This is my first race in this calendar year, after a long pause for training, and it's not bad for a first race. I only had a little trouble in the final laps," he said.
Where Pedersen managed to stay under 30 seconds, Rumyantsev's last three laps were above 30 seconds and that was exactly what made the difference. "Hopefully I can improve a little for Inzell. This was a confidence boost, and the whole season has already been good so far, for me and for the whole Russian long-distance team."
The ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Hamar continues tomorrow with the Ladies and Men 500m and 1000m.