Brittany Bowe (USA), Femke Kok (NED) and Irene Schouten (NED) reprised their victories of last week when the ISU World Cup Series continued in the Heerenveen Hub on Saturday. Although the golden trio confirmed themselves as favorites for the World Championships in February, their rivals showed they have far from surrendered just yet.
Bowe beats 'best of all time'
Brittany Bowe (USA) went out fast from the start to claim her second successive 1500m victory © International Skating Union (ISU)
“The time doesn’t lie,” said Brittany Bowe after she won the 1500m for the second successive week. Stopping the clock at 1 minute and 53.45 seconds, she was 0.43 seconds faster than last time. “I could tell I pushed myself harder than last week, Antoinette [De Jong] going before me. She had an awesome 300m first split and all three of the splits I saw of her were faster than I did last week, so I knew I had to put the paddle down and go for it.”
After De Jong had skated 0.08 faster than Bowe did last week, the American faced Ireen Wüst in the penultimate pairing. “There’s no greater person to be paired with, because she’s the best of all time,” Bowe smiled. During the race she set aside her respect for the five-time Olympic champion and went out fast starting from the outer lane.
The only thing Wüst could do was follow at a distance and at the last crossing, Bowe even crossed ahead of her pair-mate coming from the outer lane. Wüst said: “I skated pretty far behind and to be over-crossed in that final lap is not good, but it makes me sharper. These [World Cup] races are a prelude to the World Championships. I’m making progress and I believe in myself. I’ve proved to be able to give something extra when it really counts more than once.”
Ireen Wüst (NED) indicated she will still be hot on the heels of winner Bowe at the World Championships © International Skating Union (ISU)
Wüst, who had won silver last week, had to settle for bronze in 1:54.22, behind De Jong’s 1:53.81. De Jong was excited about her performance. ”In the past I never thought of myself as a 1500m skater, but I’m beginning to like it more and more. With the new pair of shoes I use this season, I can convey my energy to the ice much better.”
Like Wüst, De Jong has faith in her 1500m title chances at the World Championships. “I’m at 95 per cent now,” she said. “Skating 1.53 is good for me, but I don’t aim at good, I aim at very good. The gap [with Bowe] is 0.4. That’s a lot, but it’s less than last week. I just have to step up my game a little more.”
Unstoppable Kok not used to winning yet
A week after winning the first Dutch gold World Cup medal in the ladies’ 500m since 2011, Femke Kok topped the podium in the shortest distance for the third consecutive time on Saturday. “No, I’m not getting used to it yet,” she smiled.
Kok stopped the clock at 37.23 seconds, leaving Angelina Golikova (RUS) 0.05 seconds behind in second place, while 2019 World Champion Vanessa Herzog (AUT) grabbed her first World Cup medal of the season in third place with 37.40.
“I’m not sure whether this is my peak form,” 20-year-old Kok said. “I hope not, because I want to be better at the World Championships.”
Femke Kok (NED) topped the podium in the ladies 500m for the third consecutive time © International Skating Union (ISU)
Golikova finished second for the third time in a row. She hopes to be paired up with Kok at the World Championships, as the two have not faced each other in the same pairing this season.
Kok is not choosy about her possible pair-mate, although she does like racing racing Golikova. “She is really sweet and super fair,” said Kok. “She always wishes me luck beforehand and congratulates me afterwards. That’s what makes sport so beautiful: positive people who do not begrudge each other.”
Schouten edges out Blondin in eventful Mass Start
Irene Schouten (NED) won the Mass Start, edging out Ivanie Blondin after an eventful race. Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA) finished third but she and Valérie Maltais (CAN) were disqualified for irregular conduct on the ice. Elizaveta Golubeva (RUS) stepped up to the podium for bronze.
Both Schouten and Blondin agreed that racing in the Mass Start had become too aggressive over the past years, praising the referees for taking action.
“I feel like every race is worse and worse,” Blondin said. “In a way I’m happy they started disqualifying people, because it kind of gives everybody the idea that we need to take a step back from being too aggressive. It’s unfortunate that they disqualified Val [Valérie Maltais], but it happens. It’s for everyone’s safety.”
Irene Schouten (NED) emerged from an eventful race to claim her second successive ladies Mass Start gold medal © International Skating Union (ISU)
Schouten said: “I’ve always said that the ISU had to be stricter and it’s good to see that they took action today. Some skate more with their arms than with their legs and I’m happy that the ISU takes a close look at the footage.”
Where to Watch
Viewers will be able to watch the ISU Speed Skating competitions that will take place within the hub either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel.
All the information is available in the Where to Watch which will be updated after each competition. The individual announcements and entry lists will be published under the respective events as soon as they are available. For further information regarding the ISU Speed Skating Hub please visit: https://www.isu.org/heerenveen2021.
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