Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland


Martina Sáblíková (CZE) showed great resilience by bouncing back from last week's fourth place to win the 3000m on the opening day of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Tomaszów Mazowiecki on Friday. Carlijn Achtereekte (NED) was a close second and climbed to first place in the long distance World Cup ranking. In the ladies’ Team Sprint, Russia took advantage of a line-up change to beat the Netherlands and reverse last week’s places at the top of the podium.

Sáblíková had health issues after her disappointing start to the World Cup season in Minsk last week. "I was sick last week and I flew back to the Czech Republic to have my blood tested in the hospital after Minsk," she explained. "I did not skate the whole week. Yesterday was my first day back on the ice."images/GettyImages-1189376940.jpg

Martina Sáblíková (CZE) claiming gold in the 3000m on Friday after shaking off a mystery illness 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

The World Allround Champion even doubted whether she would start in the 3000m in Tomaszów. "I said, 'OK, I'm here so let's try', because I want to stay in the top-eight to be able skate the 5000m (at the World Cup in Nur-Sultan in December)."

Despite being so exhausted that she had to do the post-race interviews sitting down, Sáblíková did not for a second regret her decision to start. She finished in 4:06.13, beating her own track record by almost eight seconds and taking her career 50th individual World Cup gold. She hopes to have recovered fully. "I felt really good before Minsk, I skated 4:00 in Inzell. I don't exactly know what it was, something with my stomach, I hope it's all over now."

Achtereekte inches away form first World Cup gold

Olympic 3000m champion Achtereekte started after Sáblíková had set her time and she knew what she had to do to grab her career first World Cup win. Battling with pair-mate Antoinette de Jong (NED), Achtereekte went into the final lap with an 0.15-second advantage over Sáblíková, but she did not manage to pull it off.

With 4:06.28 she came 0.15 seconds short at the finish line. "That's annoying," She said. "It's just little things I can do better. I had a mis-stroke in the final three laps, and racing versus Antoinette [de Jong], I was just a bit too much preoccupied with winning the pair [instead of the event]."GettyImages 1189377036

Carlijn Achtereekte's second place pushes her to the top of the World Cup standings 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Thanks to her second place, Achtereekte climbs to the top of the long distance World Cup ranking, but she is not too bothered. "I don't go to [the World Cup Events in] Kazakhstan and Nagano. I thought about it today. It's dangerous, when you're skating to well, you may consider switching, but I stick to the original plan [a training camp in Collalbo, Italy]. It's going well and I want to keep it that way."

Isabelle Weidemann (CAN), who won the 3000m in Minsk, skated in the final pair versus compatriot Ivanie Blondin. She finished fourth in 4:06.76 and dropped to second place in the World Cup ranking. Sáblíková climbed to third place, surpassing Natalya Voronina (RUS), who finished in 4:06.61 in Tomaszów to take her second bronze medal of the season.

ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 3000m Ladies

Line-up changes shake up Team Sprint

In the ladies' Team Sprint last week's gold and silver medalists the Netherlands and Russia both changed their line-up. It worked out well for Russia, but not so much for the Dutch ladies. With Daria Kachanova instead of Irina Kuznetsova, the Russian team reverted to the line-up with which they took silver at last year's World Single Distance Championships in Inzell. In Tomaszów the team was good enough for gold in 1:27.65.

With Kachanova in the team, Angelina Golikova and Olga Fatkulina skated first and second instead of second and third, as they did in Minsk. "Today went better [than last week in Minsk]," Fatkulina said. "I like to do two laps instead of three laps. It's easier and tomorrow I also skate a 500m, so two laps is enough for today."GettyImages 1189378630

Russia's victorious team sprinters Olga Fatkulina, Angelina Golikova and Daria Kachanova 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

The Netherlands, who took gold last week, finished 1.69 seconds behind Russia, with Sanneke de Neeling instead of Letitia de Jong as third skater. Michelle de Jong and Jutta Leerdam were the first and second skater, like last week in Minsk. "I think we lost it in the final lap, but no one’s to blame,” said Leerdam. “This is a very tough track and I'm just glad I don't have to skate that heavy last lap myself." Asked about her preferred line-up she said: "I think last week's squad was very smooth, mostly because I'm used to training with Letitita [De Jong] and Michelle [De Jong]. Michelle opens strong, building it up. Then we accelerate and Letitita can follow my stroke very well, so I think that's ideal."

Japan's Maki Tsuji, Arisa Go and Konami Soga came third in 1:29.65, retaining their third place in the World Cup ranking behind Russia and the Netherlands, who are equal with one victory apiece.

ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings Team Sprint Ladies

Where to Watch

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ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series 2019/20:

Minsk (BLR) - Nov 15 – 17

Tomaszów Mazowiecki (POL) – Nov 22 – 24

Nur-Sultan (KAZ) – Dec 6 – 8

Nagano (JPN) – Dec 13 – 15

Calgary (CAN) – Feb 7 – 8

Final – Heerenveen (NED) – Mar 7 - 8