Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) got back up again at the second leg of the ISU World Cup speed skating on Saturday. After crashing in last weekend’s first 500m, the Russian world record holder won his first World Cup gold of the season in Heerenveen. Jorrit Bergsma (NED), who got up again on Friday by qualifying for the Mass Start final despite a crash in the semis, followed that up with a powerful break to win the gold medal on Saturday. Meanwhile the undownable Thomas Krol (NED) was in a class of his own again in the 1500m.
In last week’s World Cup 1500m race, all top-five places were orange. This week the Dutch dominance was restricted to the podium, with Norwegians Hallgeir Engebråten and Sverre Lunde Pedersen coming fourth and fifth.
With a time of 1 minute and 43.42 seconds, winner Thomas Krol was 0.18 seconds slower than last week. Kjeld Nuis clocked 1:44.22 and was 0.44 faster to take silver after last week’s bronze, swapping places with Patrick Roest (1:44.75), who was 0.30 slower than last week.
Despite Krol’s domination in the distance, Nuis is convinced that he catch up with his former team-mate to challenge him at the World Championships in February. He said: “It’s my best of the season, so I can’t complain and the gap with [Thomas] Krol has almost halved. But it was far from a perfect race. I had a good opener and a good outer corner after that, but on the turn after the first cross-over I messed it up. That was a shame. I would still not have caught up with Krol, but I could’ve skated 1:44.0.
“Remembering last year, I’m still confident. Back then, Krol also won everything in the beginning of the season, and I beat him in Salt Lake City [at the World Championships] in February.”
Nuis said he would like to be paired with Krol at the World Championships. His compatriot was indifferent. “I don’t really mind,” said Krol. “Of course he’s the only skater who can be of any help in my race and that’s the same the other way around, because we’re the only ones who open so fast. But I’ve skated all my races alone this year already and I won them all, but one. I’ve shown that I’m faster than him over the past couple of weeks, so bring it on.”
Kulizhnikov back on top
Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) was more careful skating the 500m after last week’s crash, and his cautious race was enough for gold on Saturday. Having climbed back up to the A Division again by winning last Sunday’s B Division race, the Russian set 34.47 in the second pairing on Saturday.
Kulizhnikov was diagnosed with Covid-19 in December, but said that the infection had not affected his preparations for the season. “I feel good, but we did not skate many races eventually, so I lack rhythm,” he said. “I’m not at my top level yet, but it’s gradually getting better.”
Bergsma solos to gold
After his remarkable recovery in the semi-finals on Friday, Jorrit Bergsma had more solo riding in store on Saturday. Whereas he had to chase the bunch after a crash in the semis, it was the bunch who had to chase the Dutchman in the final. Bergsma made a powerful jump with about six laps to go and managed to stay out of sight. Bart Swings(BEL) was second and Swiss Livio Wenger third.
Bergsma said an early jump is not always successful. “You never know,” he said. “It all depends on what the bunch does and they hesitated, which gave me just about enough room. If those guys decide to chase, it’s going to be difficult. Escaping is tough, you have to make enough pace to get away and then you have to have the stamina to hold on to the line.”
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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