Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) took charge in the 500m World Cup ranking winning gold with what he described as a "so-so race". Kai Verbij (NED) led a Dutch podium sweep in the 1000m, but the European Champion did not skate the race of his life either. Both men considered the Hamar World Cup as a preparatory race for next week's showdown at the World Single Distance Championships in Inzell, Germany.
Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) on his way to Men's 500m gold © International Skating Union (ISU)
Kulizhnikov started in the final pairing versus Tsubasa Hasegawa (JPN). World Cup leader Tatsuya Shinhama (JPN) had skated the 12th-fastest time until that moment, leaving Kulizhnikov the perfect opportunity to grab the World Cup lead and that's exactly what he did. With 34.65s, he left Kim Jun-Ho (KOR) 0.06 seconds behind in second place. Dai Dai Ntab (NED) took bronze in 34.77.
Kulizhnikov said: "It was a so-so race. It looked OK but it's a little cold in here which did not feel very good."
Kulizhnikov has won the last four 500m races and overtakes Shinhama in the World Cup ranking. Norway's Håvard Lorentzen (NOR), who finished a disappointing 13th in 35.09, is in third place.
Silver medalist Kim Jun-Ho (KOR) looks on in the Men's 500m © International Skating Union (ISU)
Verbij leads Dutch sweep
Kai Verbij, who won the European Sprint title in Collalbo, Italy in January, took gold in the 1000m. He finished in 1:08.47, leaving Thomas Krol (1:08.53) and Kjeld Nuis (1:08.71) in second and third place respectively.
"It was a good race for a training race," Verbij said. "Next week [at the World Championships in Inzell] I hope to do better and today I noticed a couple of things I can work on. But this doesn't tell us anything about my chances in Inzell. This is just one moment, and next week is another moment."
Krol was pleased with his performance and with the color of his medal: "I won a gold medal in Heerenveen of course, and a couple of bronzes, but I did not have a silver yet. This was my first race in three weeks and I'm satisfied. It was 95 percent OK."
Men's 1000m medalists (L-R) Thomas Krol, Kai Verbij and Kjeld Nuis of Netherlands © International Skating Union (ISU)
Kulizhnikov came fourth in 1:08.87 after breaking a spring in his clap-skate at the start. "I felt it in the first corner so I couldn't skate a good opener and I couldn't skate a good race after that either." The Russian is confident about his shape for the World Single Distance Championships: "I feel great, but it's sprinting so it's pure fortune next week."