Tingyu Gao (CHN) looks to have caught up with the world’s best sprinters right on time. With the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in front of a home crowd within sight, the 23-year-old from Harbin started the international season with a career-first World Cup win in Tomaszów Mazowiecki (POL) on Friday. Gao crushed the track record in 34.26 seconds. In the 5000m Nils van der Poel (SWE) also pulverized the track record to take gold.
Tingyu Gao (CHN) © International Skating Union (ISU)
Gao’s previous best World Cup results were the silver medals he won in Harbin (CHN) in 2016 and Minsk (BLR) in 2019.
“I’m very excited about my first World Cup gold,” he said. “But the main goal this season is to go to the podium of the Beijing Olympic Games.”
The big gap with the rest of the field did not make Gao overconfident.
“All the 500m skaters are about the same level,” he said. “Winning encourages me again to put in the extra effort.”
Tatsuya Shinhama of Japan and Laurent Dubreuil of Canada © International Skating Union (ISU)
Canada’s odd man out
“I always say that I want to skate against all the best skaters in the world, all the guys that were not there last year [the four Asian skaters in the top five], when I won the World Championships.
“Obviously two guys beat me today but my goal is to beat everybody, and I'm happy everybody's here. It's makes for more exciting races and I think over time it’s going to bring the best out of me.”
The difference between Gao and the rest of the field was the opener, according to Dubreuil’s analysis.
“When you open 9.32 (seconds), then you have a pretty big lead, right? And it's not like his lap is bad. His lap is as good as ours.
“It's just one race but, at the same time, today he was clearly the best and I expect him to win a lot of medals this fall, but we'll see how it builds up throughout the year. We all want to be better in February than we are now. But today he was extremely impressive.
“It means some homework for me. I'm probably never going to open 9.32. If I want to beat him, I need to go into high 9.4, or at least a low 9.5, and have a better lap than he does.”
Van der Poel picks up where he left off
Having surprised the international Speed Skating community last year with a World Record in the 10,000m at low-lying Thialf in Heerenveen (NED), Nils van der Poel picked up where he left off at the start of the new World Cup season, with victory in the 5000m.
“Feels like it that way,” he laughed, having shattered Patrick Roest’s (NED) 2019 track record by almost four seconds, coming home in six minutes, 15.56 seconds.
Van der Poel left the rest of the field more than five seconds behind, with Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) taking silver in 6:20.94, and Roest edging out compatriot Jorrit Bergsma (NED) by 0.19s for the bronze in 6:21.03.
The big gap did not mean a lot, Van der Poel said.
“It doesn’t say as much as Jorrit (Bergsma) skating a 6.07 in Heerenveen (at the Dutch national championships in October). It’s a hard track to be fast on (in Tomaszów Mazowiecki). I’m from Sweden, I’m used to slower rinks.”
Yet, Van der Poel looked ahead to the rest of the season with confidence.
“I just did pretty well. It’s the place to be right now but you shouldn’t underestimate the other skaters. This is not where we’re usually competing.”
Bloemen agreed with Van der Poel about the track.
“I was really excited to measure myself with the rest of the world. The slower tracks like these, it's difficult for me (being used to training at the fast Olympic Oval in Calgary). So I'm really happy to come out second here.”
Bloemen did not want to downplay Van der Poel’s effort, however.
“A 6.15 here today is really impressive. I must say, I expected to be a little bit closer to the winning time with my race, so good on him.”
Three-time and reigning Olympic Champion Sven Kramer (NED), who qualified for the Dutch World Cup squad by the skin of his teeth in October, clocked a disappointing 6:30.097 for ninth place in the B Division.
“You hope for an upward line”, Kramer said. “But today just was not good enough. I can’t really put the finger on the sore spot, but it has to improve, that’s obvious.”
500m Men race
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 500m Men
5000m Men race
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 5000m Men
The event entry quotas for the individual distances will be determined by the Special Olympic Qualification Classification (SOQC) based on results from the different ISU World Cup Speed Skating Competitions and the full details are available in ISU Communication 2405.
For full entry lists and further information regarding the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series please visit: isu.org/speed-skating. Results are here and you can follow the discussion on social media by using #SpeedSkating.
Where to Watch
Viewers will be able to watch 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. You will find the full list in the Where to Watch news here.
Subscribe to the ISU Newsletter to receive the latest information and the “Where to Watch” news. You can also subscribe to the Skating ISU YouTube Channel to receive notifications when live streams start or new videos are published.
Highlights, clips, interviews, behind the scenes:
YouTube: ISU Skating
Follow the conversation with #SpeedSkating.
For further information on ISU Speed Skating visit https://www.isu.org/speed-skating
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series 2021/22:
About ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series
The ISU World Cup Speed Skating is a Series of international Speed Skating competitions which takes place annually. The Series started in 1984 and usually consists of six or seven Events including the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final. However during the Olympic season the Series consists of five Events.
Skaters can earn points at each competition, and the Skater who has the most points on a given distance at the end of the Series is the World Cup winner of that distance. The World Cup Competitions held from November to December serve as qualifying events for entry quotas at the ISU European, World Single Distances, World Sprint and World Allround Speed Skating Championships and during the Olympic season they are Olympic Qualifying Events. A number of World Cup titles are awarded every season; For Men: 500m, 1000m, 1500m, combined 5000m / 10,000m, Mass Start, Team Pursuit and Team Sprint. For Women 500m, 1000m, 1500m, the combined 3000m / 5000m, Mass Start, Team Pursuit and Team Sprint. For further information please visit isu.org/WorldCupSpeedSkating.