Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan


Patrick Roest (NED) had to dig deep, but eventually celebrated his 24th birthday in style by winning a hard-fought battle with Jorrit Bergsma (NED) to clinch the first 10,000m World Cup gold medal of his career on Day 2 in Nur-Sultan on Saturday. Danila Semerikov (RUS) came second and Graeme Fish (CAN) took his career first World Cup medal in third place. In the men's 1000m Thomas Krol, Kjeld Nuis and Kai Verbij swept the podium for the Netherlands.

Krol beats Nuis in Dutch 1-2-3 

Verbij, Krol and Nuis skated in the third-last, penultimate and final pair respectively. Until they took the ice, Mathias Vosté (BEL) had been the only skater to break the 1:09 barrier with 1:08.90.

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Thomas Krol on his way to a track record in the men's 1000m in the Alau Ice Palace 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Verbij, who finished in 1:08.81 to take the bronze medal, said: "It was OK, not my best race. We got here a little late and we had been training hard. I'm not bothered too much (about being behind Krol and Nuis). To win a World Cup is nice, but we have to qualify (for the European and World Championships) at the national championships (in Heerenveen, 27-29 December). I'll go to Nagano and then [I'll take] some rest to taper for the nationals."

After Verbij, Krol blitzed to 1:08.42, beating the track record of 1:08.66 set by Shani Davis (USA) in 2013. In the final pair Nuis was 0.04 seconds faster at the 600m split, but he was ultimately beaten by Krol's unmatched 26.61 final lap.

With two gold medals in two 1000m races, Krol emphatically leads the World Cup rankings, but the battle with team-mate Nuis continues.

"I've beaten him a couple of times now, but he was faster in Minsk (in the 1500m at the first leg of this season's World Cup)," Krol said. "I've shown that I'm capable of beating him, so we'll have another great fight at the nationals."

Despite their differences, he and Nuis get along well, Krol added.

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A clean sweep for Dutch 1000m medalists, from left, Kjeld Nuis, Thomas Krol and Kai Verbij 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

"We are opposite characters. He's a bit of an alpha-male and I'm quieter. Sometimes I have to stand up for myself, and I think I've grown in that respect.

"As a skater he is technically better than I am, but I think that I'm a bit better physically. That makes up for tight races."

Nuis, who had a cold last week, was not making any excuses. "His form of the day was just a little bit better," he said. "I felt really good today, but I just did not skate fast enough.

"I'm stronger in weight training, but he's got more stamina. When we skate a 1500m it all comes together and that's why it's such tense racing every week. It's nice to watch, but I'd rather have a bit less tense races [and win]. But this way it keeps us both sharp."

ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 1000m men

Roest digs deep to fend off Bergsma

The only World Cup race over 10,000m this season was a tense encounter. Patrick Roest led the long distance classification beforehand, having won the first two 5000m races last month. On his 24th birthday the World Allround champion faced compatriot and 10,000m world champion Jorrit Bergsma in the penultimate pairing.

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Patrick Roest (NED) recovers from victory in the 10,000m  2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Roest started ferociously, gaining almost half a second per lap over his pair-mate in the first part of the race. But after the 6400m split Roest's speed dropped. Bergsma, almost 100 meters behind at the time, saw it happening and tried to seize the opportunity by increasing his pace. With two laps to go, the 6.53-second gap had shrunk to less than a second, but Bergsma's efforts were to no avail.

He said afterwards: "At a certain point I gained a second per lap. I thought I might even be able to catch him. When I almost had him, I forced myself too much, when I was already at my limit and I blew myself up faster than I thought. I lost 10 seconds in the final lap, there was just nothing I could do anymore."

Bergsma's attack had scared Roest, who was struggling in the second part of his race. "I started a bit too fast. I felt good and the lap times came easy, but halfway through the race I felt worse and that's difficult mentally too. I had to hold back, because otherwise I would not have survived.

"Those last 10 laps were an ordeal. I knew he [Bergsma] was coming, but I did not know whether I would be able to counter. When it was two laps to go, I just went flat out."

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Gold medalist Patrick Roest (NED) flanked by Russia's Danila Semerikov, left, and Graeme Fish (CAN) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

After having posted three lap times above 32 seconds, Roest managed to squeeze out a 30.28 and a 29.87 lap in the end. "I don't know where I got that from. It may have looked good, but it did not come easy," he said with a weary smile.

Bergsma eventually had to settle for fifth place behind Semerikov, Fish and Aleksandr Rumyantsev (RUS).

Fish, 22, said of his first World Cup medal: "I'm a bit surprised that I got there. Jorrit is a good skater and the other Russian [Rumyantsev] is a good skater as well. It shows that with my abilities I can do something special."

ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings long distance men

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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