"A relief," said Patrick Roest (NED) after he won his third consecutive World Allround title at the Combined ISU World Sprint/Allround Championships in Hamar, Norway on Sunday. The 24-year-old Dutchman bounced back from a poor outing at the World Single Distance Championships two weeks ago in Salt Lake City, winning three of four distances on his way to the Allround title at the Vikingskipet. Riding the waves of an enthusiastic home crowd Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR) edged out Seitaro Ichinohe (JPN) for the silver medal.
1500m: Big step towards the title
Going into the 1500m, Patrick Roest (NED) had a 1.07 gap over second-ranked Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR). The title contenders faced each other in the final pairing and Roest did not leave any room for doubt.
With 1:44.41 the leader in the ranking left Pedersen 0.61 behind to build a 0.558 point gap over his rival, which equaled 11.16 seconds in the concluding 10000m.
"I was very happy with my 1500m," Roest said. "I knew it was a big step towards the World title and I knew that normally I should be able to beat Sverre [Lunde Pedersen] in the 10000m.
"Maybe he sort of knew that it was done at that moment too."
Pedersen may have known, but he did not want to give up without a fight.
Behind Roest and Pedersen, Seitaro Ichinohe (JPN) and Jan Blokhuijsen (NED) raced for third place overall.
Ichnohe beat his rival in the 1500m, finishing in 1:45.85 for third place. Blokhuijsen clocked 1:45.97 for fourth place, which left him 6.80 seconds from a podium spot at the start of the 10000m.
Patrick Roest (NED) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
10000m: Huge personal best for Ichinohe
No one, including Ichinohe himself, knew what the Japanese skater was worth in the 10000m. His personal best was 30 seconds slower than Blokhuijsen's and the Dutchman still hoped to leave Ichinohe behind in the final ranking.
Blokhuijsen tried to wear out his Japanese opponent in the penultimate pairing of the 10000m, but Ichinohe did not give way.
He followed Blokhuijsen closely, and took over the initiative at the 7200m split.
Blokhuijsen quickly threw in the towel and eventually finished 4.50 seconds behind Ichinohe, who smashed his personal best by almost 20 seconds, clocking 13:07.88.
Ichinohe said: "I saw that I was first [in the ranking] after I crossed the line and I knew that meant I had won a medal [with only Roest and Pedersen yet to skate].
"But I only really realized that I was on the podium, until after the TV-interview, when people started congratulating me."
Ichinohe eventually won bronze, but watching Pedersen skate the final race, he saw that he even got close to winning the Allround silver.
Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR, left), Patrick Roest (NED, centre) and Seitaro Ichinohe (JPN, right) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Redemption for both Pedersen and Roest
Roest left Pedersen behind from the start to win the 10000m in 13:02.45, and Pedersen struggled.
"I did a good 1500m, but Patrick was just too strong today and for the 10k I was empty.
"I hoped that I was able to follow [Patrick], but I had no chance and then it was a fight to the finish line."
Pedersen had a 12-second cushion towards Ichinohe, but his advantage faded away quickly during the race.
"I noticed that I was losing a lot to him [Ichinohe] every lap. I just tried to keep the legs moving."
Carried by the home crowd, the Norwegian managed to clock 13:19.22, to stay 0.66 seconds ahead of Ichinohe in the ranking.
"The crowd was amazing, thanks to them I did it," Pedersen smiled.
After a tough season, in which he was hampered by the ramifications of a bike crash in September, Pedersen was happy to deliver on home soil.
"I felt I won a silver today, it was a really, really tough 10k, I felt all the struggle I had earlier this season."
With his third consecutive title, Roest left his own personal struggles behind. He said this title was the most beautiful of the three.
"Partly because of the great atmosphere and the crowd here in Hamar, but also because of Salt Lake City [Roest had not managed to win any silverware at the World Single Distance Championships two weeks before].
"This feels like a relief. Yesterday was a relief because I felt that I can still make it work and today because I was able to finish it off."
Roest won the second gold medal for the Netherlands after Ireen Wüst won the ladies' Allround title at the Combined ISU World Sprint/Allround Championships, but Japan topped the medal ranking with two golds (Miho Takagi and Tatsuya Shinhama in the ladies' and men's Sprint), a silver and a bronze. The Netherlands added one bronze to their two golds.
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