Experience paid off for Ronald Mulder (NED) on Sunday as the 34-year-old won his career sixth World Cup 500m gold, and his first since November 2017. Kai Verbij (NED) beat compatriot Thomas Krol in the 1000m by skating the second-fastest time ever in Thialf and Patrick Roest (NED) took 5000m gold ahead of Sweden’s Nils van der Poel, who strengthened his claim for a 10,000m ticket at the ISU World Single Distance Championships in February.
Long-awaited win for Mulder
Saturday’s 500m winner Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) skipped Sunday’s race because of a groin injury and the winner of last week’s second 500m Artem Arefyev (RUS) faced Ronald Mulder in the third-last pairing. Veteran Mulder had a plan for the 20-year-old Russian. “I wanted to get on his nerves in the opener,” said the Dutchman. “He skated 9.60 yesterday and I wanted to be ahead of him. The first step was mine and I got the feeling that he overran himself a bit. That’s a good start to the race.”
Despite the good start, Mulder wasn’t completely satisfied with his race. “It wasn’t immaculate. I opened 9.64 and I have done 9.5 in the past. Immaculate is almost impossible, but when you win, it’s good anyhow.”
“It’s all so close in sprinting,” Mulder said. “You can either be tenth or win. That’s nerve-wracking for us sprinters: you have to be so sharp, you have to fight for every inch. It’s great for the spectators and it’s also nice to be a part of that.”
Otterspeer took his first World Cup podium of the season and also commented on the depth of the field in the men’s 500m. “It’s anyone’s game really,” he said. “But it’s good to be on the podium again, because I’ve been so close already. My speed is good, but I made little mistakes in my previous races, so when my opener is good and I add a smooth full-lap, I know I can skate 34.5.”
Van der Poel driven by dreams
In the 5000m Nils van der Poel was on a mission. The Swede has set his sights on skating the 10,000m at the World Championships, but his attendance relies on his place in the special qualification ranking list of the 5000m. To keep his chances alive, Van der Poel had to surpass Hallgeir Engebråten on the list and the Norwegian had skated 6:09.21 last week.
Nils van der Poel (SWE) was on a mission © International Skating Union (ISU)
Van der Poel started in the second pairing and stopped the clock at 6:08.39, enough to pass Engebråten, who was due up in the fourth pairing. With 6:17.03, Engebråten did not manage to beat Van der Poel and nor did anyone else but Patrick Roest, who won the distance in 6:05.95. Russia’s Sergey Trofimov took bronze in 6:10.86.
“I knew the time I had to beat,” Van der Poel said after his race. It had not come easily, however. “The race I did last Sunday, was the best race of my life, but it still was three seconds too slow and that was just mentally really hard. I really believe I’m one of the top 10,000m skaters in the world right now, and not being able to skate the worlds, that was a punch in the stomach.
“On Monday I was knackered and then on Tuesday we made a change to the radius of my blades, because it looked like a rollercoaster. At practice on Tuesday, I did half the sessions on the rollercoaster and half the sessions with the radius, and then I knew I could go faster. Today’s race was excellent. The gain of having a radius in your blade, that’s a good one.”
When Patrick Roest saw Van der Poel’s 6:08.39, he knew he had to dig deep to win. “It’s great to have him around in the 5000m,” said Roest. “He keeps surprising everyone and he’ll be a dangerous rival in the 10,000 [at the World Championships].”
Verbij beats Krol in 1000m
Kai Verbij left all of last weekend’s troubles behind by winning the 1000m in 1:07.35, the second-fastest time behind Pavel Kulizhnikov’s track record. Last Sunday, Verbij had come second behind Thomas Krol, after crashing in Saturday’s 500m. This time he beat his team-mate in the final pairing.
“It’s great, also to take that [second fastest track] time from Thomas,” Verbij said. “My approach to the 1000m was the same as last week, but back then I still had a bit of a sore neck due to Saturday’s crash. Now I was fresher and sharper.”
After two 1500m golds and one 1000m win over the past two weekends, Krol had to settle for silver with 1:07.58, ahead of Canada’s Laurent Dubreuil, who took his second bronze medal of the day.
“I’m gutted,” Krol said. “Today he beat me fair and square, I have to be honest. Hats off to Kai. I skated a good race, and that’s what hurts the most: to skate a good race and still get beaten.”
Where to Watch
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