USA's Brittany Bowe has been peerless on the ice so far this season 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
The world’s leading female speed skaters are still trying to work out just how to slow the progress of Ivanie Blondin (CAN) and Brittany Bowe (USA). The pair swept all before them once again on Saturday: Blondin adding a track record and 3000m gold to her ever-growing collection, while Bowe showed no mercy in the 1000m, taking her third gold in three races so far this season and adding her own track record for good measure.
1000m Ladies: Flawless race for Bowe
Bowe was flawless as she beat pair-mate Olga Fatkulina (RUS) to the line in a track-record time of 1:14.34.
"I felt very composed," the USA skater said. "I'm really happy, because I'm pretty tired this week. Nearing the end of an eight-week trip and having a pretty tough journey from Kazakhstan. The good thing is that everybody had the same travel schedule."
Fatkulina managed to track Bowe pretty well in the first part of the race but had to bow her head in the final lap, ending up eighth overall in 1:15.62.
"I knew it would be close," Bowe said. "She had a great lap in her 500m yesterday. I knew it would be a fast 600 meters and I know I can close stronger than her.
"But hats off to her, she did not get her skates [delivered] until Thursday night so she did not have an optimal week either."
Only three skaters managed to stay under 1:15. Sanneke de Neeling (NED) was the first, clocking 1:14.89 in the second pairing. The Dutch sprinter realized it was fast, but had to wait another eight pairs to really know what it would be worth.
"The race did not even feel that good actually,” she said. “But when I saw my time I knew it was very fast."
Ladies' 1000m medallists (left to right): Miho Takagi (JPN, silver), Brittany Bowe (USA, gold) and Sanneke de Neeling (NED, bronze) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Miho Takagi (JPN) skated in the next pair. She posted a far-from-perfect race and seemed to have finished a few thousands of a second behind De Neeling, but a little later the time was corrected and Takagi was 0.003 faster.
"I've got to admit that I shouted some expletives when I saw that," De Neeling said with a big smile. "I thought 'oh no, am I going to end up fourth again?'." But she did not.
After a long and anxious wait, the 23-year-old Dutch skater was presented with a career-first individual World Cup medal, clinching the bronze.
"I knew I had a big chance today,” she said. “Last week I blew it in the first 200 meters so I needed a good start."
Takagi also enjoyed a good start, and a flawless first 600 meters. "I felt I was on a good pace, but when I hit the corner my speed was a bit too high and I couldn't hold the curve," she said.
The Japanese racer slipped away but managed to stay on her feet to finish the race and seize the silver medal.
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 1000m Ladies
Canada's Ivanie Blondin added 3000m gold to Friday's Mass Start victory 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
3000m Ladies: Blondin rockets to more golden glory
In case there was any doubt, Ivanie Blondin (CAN) proved her claim to be the best endurance skater in the field at the moment.
Having won last week's Team Pursuit, 1500m and 5000m in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on Saturday she added 3000m gold to Friday's Mass Start win in Nagano.
Posting 4:00.24, she was more than three seconds faster than Martina Sáblíková's 2016 track record of 4:03.56.
"It's just [about] consistency,” explained Blondin after the race. “I sat down with Remmelt [coach Remmelt Elderling, NED] yesterday and he told me I should try to do four 31 laps, but I said that I could actually do two 30 laps first and that's pretty much what I did today."
Ladies' 3000m medallists (left to right): Martina Sablikova (CZE, silver), Ivanie Blondin (CAN, gold) and Isabelle Weidemann (CAN, bronze) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Two 30 laps, three 31 laps and two concluding laps of 32.36 and 33.04 were enough to keep the experienced Sáblíková and Isabelle Weidemann (CAN) at bay.
"Nobody is faster than Ivanie [Blondin] at the moment," said silver medallist Sáblíková. "She's like a rocket and I don’t have the power to beat her at the moment. I had a great race versus Isabelle [Weidemann] and I skated faster than I did in 2016, so I'm happy."
Blondin felt blessed with Sáblíková's compliments. "Coming from her it's pretty incredible. She's one of my heroes and I've always looked up to her. She's always been very supportive as well. It's pretty surreal."
Weidemann, who was paired up with the Czech skater at last week’s World Cup, enjoyed racing Sáblíková again.
"It's always challenging racing Martina," she said. “She's so good tactically, so there's a lot for me to learn from her. She's beaten me twice now. I hope that I can come back.
“I'll watch the video and figure out how. She's so consistent on the straightaways. Her strides are so beautiful, she conserves a lot of energy."
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 3000m Ladies
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