Ireen Wüst (NED) won her seventh World Allround title at the Combined ISU World Sprint/Allround Championships in Hamar, Norway on Sunday. The 33-year-old is now only one Allround title short of record-holder Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann (GER). Ivanie Blondin (CAN) came second seizing her career-first Allround medal and Antoinette de Jong (NED) edged out five-time champion Martina Sáblíková (CZE) for the bronze.
1500m: Wüst builds small cushion
Entering the 1500m, Ireen Wüst (NED) had a 0.220 points gap over Ivanie Blondin (CAN), which equaled 0.66 seconds in the 1500m and 2.20 seconds in the 5000.
The Dutch World 1500m Champion wanted to use the 1500m to increase her lead over the Canadian endurance specialist, but Blondin, skating against the leader in the final pairing, kept track of Wüst for most of their race, only to concede little over a second in the final lap.
With 1:53.89, Wüst beat her own 2008 track record by 0.76 seconds, but she gained just 1.32 seconds on Blondin, who would enter the 5000m in second place, 6.60 seconds behind.
In the battle for bronze Melissa Wijfje (NED) took on Antoinette de Jong (NED) in the penultimate pairing of the 1500m.
De Jong went out fast, but Wijfje countered with a more even pace and kept her compatriot in sight. With sixth place in 1:55.72 Wijfje retained her third place in the ranking.
De Jong, who came fourth in the 1500m in 1:55.19, dropped to fifth place overall because Yevgenia Lalenkova(RUS) had set 1:54.85 to come second in the 1500m.
Lalenkova needed to make up 0.98 seconds in the 5000m to catch Wijfje for third place, and De Jong was 1.61 seconds behind the podium.
Ireen Wüst (NED) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
5000m: Wüst delivers in 5000m
The battle for gold in the final pairing of the 5000m never really ignited. Wüst defended her lead keeping Blondin behind from the start.
Wüst said: "At first I thought I'd just hook up my wagon to hers, but then I thought I'd just take the lead. I skated easy enough to be able to counter an attack."
That attack never came, although Blondin had started with the intention to put the pressure on.
She said: "I don't race for second, I always race for first or last. I was going in there to win, but my legs did not have it today, it just happens.
"Maybe I got too excited and got too far forward. It's unfortunate but at the same time Wüst was still so strong in the 5k. I don't know if I would have beaten her even if it was my strongest day."
Ivanie Blondin (CAN, left), Ireen Wüst (NED, centre), Antoinette de Jong (NED, right) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Wüst secured the title finishing in 7:01.68 to come second in the 5000m. Blondin clocked 7:04.46 and came fourth in the final distance.
"I'm very proud that I managed to do it," Wüst said. "It was a super exciting and very tight tournament. [The gap may be big], but it's always easy in hindsight.
Wüst had not skated many 3000m races and no 5000m races this season, therefore she had not been too confident over her endurance capabilities.
"I actually thought I would have gained most in the 500m and the 1500m, but the 500m wasn't so good. I'm glad that I managed to pull it off in the 3000m [on Saturday].
"I was really curious how it would be, my last 3000m before this one had been at the national championships in December. The only thing I could do was rely on my experience. After all I am a two-fold Olympic champion in the 3000m, so I know how to skate it."
Blondin won the first Canadian female Allround medal since Christine Nesbitt's bronze in 2012.
"It's a dream come true," she said. "I'm really proud to share the podium with [Ireen Wüst]. She's such an incredible skater."
Martina Sáblíková (CZE) won the concluding 5000m. Skating in the second last pair versus De Jong, the Czech endurance specialist was the only one to clock a time under seven minutes in 6:53.94.
De Jong followed at a distance, defending an eight-second lead over Sáblíková. At the finish line she had only 0.08 seconds left in her favour.
De Jong said: "It's difficult to skate versus [Sáblíková] in the 5000m, because she starts out fast and I know that if I follow, I'll blow myself up. I knew I had eight seconds, but when I saw the gap, I was worried."
With 7:02.79 De Jong eventually came third in the distance, but Wijfje and Lalenkova still had a chance to nudge her off the Allround podium in the penultimate pairing.
Leaving Lalenkova behind easily, Wijfje seemed to be en route to bronze, but the 24-year-old Dutch skater had emptied the tank too early. Despite being well ahead of the time she needed to keep De Jong at bay at the 4200m split, she lost it in the last two laps.
With 7:05.20 Wijfje came fifth in the distance and in the ranking, with not just De Jong, but also Sáblíková above her.
De Jong could not believe her eyes.
"When I saw Melissa, Jac [coach Jac Orie (NED)] said, you don’t have [the bronze medal], but then in that final lap, it [Wijfje losing pace] just went so fast and I had it."
De Jong was happy to collect a medal after a disastrous start on Saturday.
"This was a strange weekend," she said. "I had to mentally work myself up from rock-bottom and it had never cost me so much energy before.
"Last night I just kept telling myself to stay low [on my skates], stay low, for the whole night. When I stay low I'm strong, when I get up, all energy flows away. Today I finally found the rest to execute that well.”
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