Only the best skaters of the season competed per Olympic distance and track records fell in all distances. The winners were Sang-Hwa Lee, Tae Bum Mo (Both KOR), Denis Kuzin (KAZ), Olga Fatkulina (RUS), Ireen Wüst (NED), Denis Yuskov (RUS), Martina Sáblíkova (CZE), Sven Kramer, and Jorrit Bergsma (both NED) and the Dutch teams won the Team Pursuit. There were 2 Personal Best, one in the Men's field and one in the Ladies'.
The first distance was the Men's 1500m, where in the World Cup, each race had a different winner. Because of that day's conditions, it became clear that it wasn't easy to keep up a good speed through the entire race; the air pressure was high and many skaters struggled in the final lap. Only three skaters skated below 1:47. The first of them was Ivan Skobrev (RUS). Last year's silver winner opened relaxed with 24.58, as was his first lap, 26.9. But it enabled him to cross behind his pair mate and remain in his slipstream, maintaining 27.3 in his next lap. improving to the fastest final lap in the field with 28.1. This brought him to 1:46.97 and a short lived track record. The next pair featured Shani Davis (USA), whose opening was 23.5, then laps of 26.0, 27.5 brought him one and three quarter second ahead of Skobrev. His 1:46.83 was the new leading time, eventually good for silver. The winner was the 23-year-young Russian Denis Yuskov, who had won in Inzell. He opened in 24.30 followed by laps of 26.5, 27.2, the fastest second lap, and with 28.2, a very strong last lap, finishing in 1:46.32. His pairmate Bart Swings (BEL) had not expected the pace of Yuskov and got into trouble at the crossing, having to slow down and losing his medal chances. So the first distance gave the world title to Yuskov, the bronze also going to Russia. Our goal is the Olympic Games, and this competition is just a small step towards it, Yuskov said afterwards. Yes, it's me who won today, but it could just as well have been someone else.
Davis: It is hard to get fast ice in this climate and at this altitude. The race was the best I could do, I am happy with the result.
Skobrev: I didn't have a very smooth beginning but it was great that the team was not panic-stricken before the race.
Ireen Wüst was the main favourite going into the 3000m. She had been the strongest in the allround tournaments and in the last World Cup races, being in extraordinary shape. She was paired with her main rival Martina Sábliková, who had been world champion twice in this distance. Wüst attacked from the start, had the fastest opening in the field, the fastest first lap, the fastest second, it was only in the final lap where she afforded to lose 0.2 to Sáblikova, who was more than two seconds behind. An impressive display of power, she set the track record to 4:02.43, leaving silver to the title defender who finished in 4:04.80. The final pair, Diane Valkenburg (NED) and Claudia Pechstein (GER), would battle for bronze if one if them managed to stay below the 4:09.53 set by Linda de Vries (NED). Valkenburg attacked and followed about 2 seconds behind the time that would bring silver. Pechstein was about a second and a half behind her. But through last inner turn, Pechstein came next to Valkenburg and found the power to finish in 32.6, faster than the previous pair had been, while for Valkenburg it seemed one lap too long, she finished in 4:08.13; Pechstein took bronze in 4:07.75. In 15 years of World Single Distance Championships, Pechstein started 14 times and won at least one medal each time. Wüst after her race: Pretty tough. It went easy though, I started fast, but then Sábliková came close behind me. I could accelerate even in the fourth lap. I had to look out, as I had no eyes in my back. Sábliková: I think my times were very good. I am satisfied with the result considering the fact that I could not train as usual due to my back injury. Pechstein: My goal was to get at least one medal in this competition. Now I have it. I won't skate the 1500m because I am really tired, and I am 41 years old! But my favourite distance is the 5000m.
Friday first featured the 1000m for Men. The first to bring the track record below 1:10 was Mirko Nenzi (ITA), who reached a strong 1:09.72. The 1500m World Cup winner Zbigniew Bródka (POL) had been the first to skate below 1:09.50 with a track record of 1:09.45, when the Olympic silver medallist of the 1000m, Tae-Bum Mo (KOR), raced. During his race the timing equipment had problems, so his result was known only after some time of his finish: 1:09.24. There was a short break to repair the ice. After that, Mark Tuitert, a Dutch favourite for this distance slipped and fell in the first turn. In the next pair, 2012 champion Stefan Groothuis (NED) skated with Denis Kuzin (KAZ). While all eyes were on Groothuis, who started fast, the Kazakh's first lap was faster and he stayed close to Groothuis, who was on Bródka's schedule. However, where Bródka finished with a 26.9 lap, Kuzin managed 26.6 and took the win with 1:09.15. Groothuis lost power in the last lap and finished in a high 1:09. Samuel Schwarz (GER) and Denny Morrison (CAN) tried in vain to attack. Schwarz was fast in the opening but his last lap was too slow, and he finished in the same time as Nenzi, just outside the medals. In the final pair Shani Davis (USA) and World Cup winner Kjeld Nuis (NED) knew what they needed to beat Kuzin's time. They opened faster, Nuis even had a 25.3 lap, Davis 25.5 and both were ahead of Kuzin, but the final lap proved hardest. Davis could reel Nuis in through the last inner and finished in 1:09.30, good for bronze. Nuis with 1:09.42 was fourth. Kuzin had never won an international medal before and was really surprised. I don't understand what happened. I worked hard, but in June I had an accident, broke my shoulder and spent a month in hospital, I feared a come-back might be impossible but my coach helped me. His coach is the first champion on this distance, Russian Sergej Klevchenya.
Mo: I was really hoping for gold, I think I was really close to it. I already have an Olympic gold medal in the 500m, so I am preparing to win one in the 1000m.
Davis, on the 1000m podium the 7th time in a row: I have to use this as motivation for the summer. I was really hoping to win this race today, but there was another guy stronger than me, so congratulations to him.
Kuzin became the second Kazakh athlete ever to win a world title in any winter sport. Vladimir Smirnov (Nordic skiing) was the first.
In the 1500m for the Ladies, Sábliková and Pechstein did not race. In the past two years, this distance had gone to Nesbitt and Wüst and these two rivals raced each other in the eighth pair, when the track record had just been improved by Kali Christ (CAN). Except for the 25.31 opening of Erbanová (CZE), who was at that point second behind Christ, Wüst opened again faster than other skaters, although the difference with Nesbitt was not that much. Her first lap was 28.5, and had taken the lead clearly; Nesbitt had a 28.7 lap like Christ. Wüst then could make speed through the inner turn, taking a second on Nesbitt with a 29.7 lap. Another 31.4 followed and she set the fastest time at the Adler Arena at 1:55.38, while Nesbitt needed a second and a half more for her last lap and finished in 1:58.07. In the final pair, Valkenburg intended to beat Lotte van Beek (NED) to get the medal she just missed a day before. But again, she was leading with one lap to go, but Van Beek could keep more speed in the final lap. Van Beek was a bit faster than Nesbitt and took silver with 1:58.02. The huge difference between her and the gold medal made her realise: Silver was the highest possible for me today, a phantastic desert to a phantastic season. Ireen is in an extreme shape. And I was happy with the draw. When Diane passed me a lap before the end I thought I need to give it a little extra. Wüst: I definitely prefer the 1500m to the 3000m. It has speed, you have to be perfect at everything to win it. This time was very fast in these circumstances, it was an example race: just like it should be. Nesbitt: I didn't feel that snappy. It's a satisfying feeling to know that my bad race is still good enough to be on the podium.
The 5000m for men brought the first Personal Best of the weekend to Yuskov, the 1500m winner who already impressed last year, now skating 6:21.46. Skobrev was the strongest Russian in this distance with 6:18.31 and only two skaters would come below that. Not Håvard Bøkko. The Norwegian was ill and after 3000m stepped out of his race. But the last two pairs brought the favourites. Bergsma and Bob De Jong (NED) in pair 11 battled only for silver. Bergsma skated attacking, a few low 29 laps made him pass the 1400m in 1:47.63, then his lap times went up gradually, twice a 29.5, and then a tenth per lap up, with three laps above 30 in the end. Bergsma kept his pair-mate behind him and had enough left in the end to stay ahead of Skobrev, who had a faster second half than first half. Bergsma finished in 6:17.94. Kramer was paired with Seung-Hoon Lee (KOR), and thought Lee would skate alongside in the first part of the race, but Lee's lap-times went into the 30's already from the second lap. When Kramer saw it wasn't fast enough as he passed in 1:47.95 at 1400m he accelerated and with a 29.2 came down to the intermediate time of Bergsma. After that, Kramer managed to pull out a series of 29.4 laps and only his first lap was above 30. He knew the victory was his: 6:14.41 is now the track record. Lee did not come near the podium. The bronze was for Skobrev, Yuskov was fourth, keeping De Jong and Swings behind him.
Kramer: I am pretty satisfied. I was a little nervous before the start because the ice was very slow. We had to work very hard for the fast 29.4 laps. It was a tough race and it surely hurts.
Bergsma: Physically I am ok, but the entire day circumstances were hard and I could not skate as relaxed as I had wanted. It was hard to find the right rhythm.
Skobrev: Especially in my country I want to be on the podium. But only silver and bronze is not fun. We will see what happens at the Olympics, see if we can beat him. For now, it is difficult, let's be honest.
Saturday started with the 1000m for the Ladies. After winning the two previous distances, Ireen Wüst realised that winning this sprint distance would be harder. Competitors like Christine Nesbitt (CAN), Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson (both USA) have proven to be able to win this distance. Wüst was the first to set an impressive time, 1:15.71, a track record. But after her start of 18.3, her first lap was 28.0, where a high 27 would be thought necessary to win. Her final 29.3 lap was good, but she was not completely happy after the finish. In the next pair Yekaterina Aydova (KAZ) started much stronger: 17.8 and 27.8 gave her a nice advantage on Wüst. However, she struggled in the final (31.2) lap, to finish in 1:16.93. Leenstra and Van Riessen were also slower in the laps. But then Olga Fatkulina (RUS) surprised. She opened in 17.6, faster than anybody else. Paired with Hong Zhang (CHN), she had caught the slipstream at the crossing and managed a first lap of 27.5, being much faster than Wüst before the last lap. She lost a bit with a 30.2 final lap, but it was enough for a track record time of 1:15.44. Richardson and Erbanová then finished just above 1:16, with Erbanová beating Richardson in the final sprint in 1:16.09 against 1:16.10. In the final pair, favourites Bowe and Nesbitt appeared. Bowe opened in 17.92, followed by a 27.7 lap, Nesbitt stayed a bit behind her and although Nesbitt had a faster final lap, Bowe won her pair in 1:15.87 and took bronze. The Olympic Champion and triple world champion Nesbitt finished in fourth with 1:16.02.
Fatkulina: This victory was unexpected to me. I worked the entire year for this moment and told myself: Olya, you can do it and you have to do it! However, somewhere deep inside I think I am too young, too inexperienced to be first at the World Championships. We thought Ireen Wüst would be first, I just hoped I had a chance to be second or third. I was happy when I found out that my opponent would be Hong Zhang. She helps her opponents to accelerate quickly. I managed to come out of the first turn first and then I just skated to the finish line.
Wüst: A pity. The first full lap was too slow, it should have been a 27 lap. It is hard to adapt your way of skating for all the different distances. But that is the art of allround. And Fatkulina was really very strong.
Bowe: I felt very good. Winning a bronze at the World Championships is an honour, a great accomplishment and something to really build on for next year.
Before the 10,000m even started, nobody doubted that the winner would be Dutch. Three men were standing out from the rest and they were all Dutch: World record holder Kramer, World Cup winner Bergsma and defending champion De Jong. Kramer was the first of them to compete when the fastest time was by Swings, 13:19.15. Kramer started a bit conservative with laps around 31.3. After 6400m he brought his laps back into the 30s, skating more dynamic and finished in 12:59.71. Yet, he was not entirely satisfied and said he knew that this time could be improved on when someone would start better than he had done, even though his finish had been very strong with a 30.0 final lap. De Jong and Bergsma once again were paired together. De Jong opened fast, and the two skaters who also had the same coach had the task of racing side by side in the first half of the race to help each other. But soon it looked like it was easier for Bergsma than for De Jong to keep laps below 31.0. Even when De Jong tried, after a 30.9 he went back into the low 31s and saw Bergsma skate away in the second half of the race, with a long row of 30.8 laps, building an advantage on Kramer of over five seconds. In the final five laps, he handed in some of that advantage, still sticking to the high 30 laps, while Kramer had sped up. De Jong managed to gain some ground back on Bergsma and also was ahead of Kramer's schedule until 9200m. De Jong pulled out a 30.7 and 30.3, Bergsma a 31.0 and 31.3 where Kramer had had a 30.2 and 30.0. Bergsma won the title in 12:57.69, and De Jong finished in 13:00.26 and lost silver to Kramer. Fourth rank went to Olympic Champion Seung-Hoon Lee but he finished more than 16 seconds behind Bergsma.
Bergsma: This is my first world title, I am really happy with it. At this speed it is easier to get into your rhythm than on the 5000m. It was a fine race. I wanted to race 31.0s and I easily reached that. I was just one of the favourites, it's the form of the day.
Kramer: Overall, I am satisfied with my performance, for sure, I wanted to win today but it is pretty difficult to set a time skating in one of the earlier pairs.
De Jong, winner of 13 consecutive medals in the event, five of them gold: I am on the podium again. In 1997 I already won bronze, but that felt better than now. I skated below my level, I am not used to me doing this.
In the ladies' 5000m the champion of the past five events, Sábliková, was the main favourite and not even medal queen Ireen Wüst thought otherwise. Usually Sábliková's battle is with Stephanie Beckert (GER), but Beckert had back problems this season and could not battle for the medals. Pechstein won her first title in the first event of these Championships in 1996 and won 12 medals through the years in this distance alone. Wüst was the first to set a time, with 32 laps until 2200m, then three mid 33s and then four 34s, finishing in 7:02.96. Sábliková was paired with Pechstein, and immediately started below the schedule of Wüst, taking more and more advantage, by sticking to 32.8 laps until 3800m, finishing with 33.0, 33.2 and 32.8. 6:54.31 was the new track record, a time impossible for others. Pechstein kept a solid race with 33 laps, and a few 34.0 laps, finishing with bronze in 7:04.07. Behind these three, four skaters finished in 7:09, De Vries, Beckert, Valkenburg and Bente Kraus (GER), for whom this was a Personal Best. Olga Graf, the home favourite who was fourth last year, was only ninth now. With her sixth victory in a row, Sábliková passes Gunda Niemann (GER) who has five, to be the sole leader of a chain of world titles in one distance. Sábliková: This means a lot because this season was hard for me, I have had too many problems. I had so much work with the time of Ireen. I just wanted a medal in the 5k, my distance, she is good at all distances. This year I had not yet heard the Czech anthem.
Wüst, silver: It was the first time I tried to race the 5000m in the World Championships. I had expected bronze so this was above expectation. There is only one real specialist now Beckert is disappearing. It was a busy day and I am happy with two silver medals. Pechstein: The 5000 is my favourite, particularly when I win a medal. Today was a little bit too long, but I got another medal and I am very happy about it.
Sunday was the day for the 500m races. The 500m for Ladies had to do without world record holder Jing Yu (CHN), who had to watch, hampered by back trouble. The main favourite, defending champion Sang-Hwa Lee was far ahead of the others in her first run, the fastest opener in 10.28 and the fastest lap of 27.4 brought her to 37.69. The first who had set a track record was Thijsje Oenema (NED), with 38.16. Lee's pair-mate Jenny Wolf (GER) also skated 38.16, and in the final pair Fatkulina finished in 38.14, Beixing Wang (CHN) in 38.22, so these four skaters would battle for the medals in the second run, possibly also Richardson, who had skated 38.29.
In the second run, in pair ten, Richardson and Wang skated. Wang opened in 10.40, and had a great finish in 37.81, taking the lead with 76.03, while Richardson dropped behind. Then Fatkulina and Wolf both started faster than in their first run, but Fatkulina proved that she too can skate a 27.4 lap. She beat Wolf in the final straight with 37.94 against 37.97. So Fatkulina kept her lead over Wolf with 76.08 versus 76.13, but dropped behind Wang. Lee and Oenema made up the final pair. Again, Lee was better than everybody else. Both skaters opened well, Lee in 10.25, Oenema in 10.27, but Lee had it followed by another 27.4 lap, where Oenema tensed in the attempt to keep up with Lee and finished in 38.03. Lee sharpened the track record with 37.65 and won with 75.34 points, Oenema with 76.19 fell back to fifth.
Winner Lee: When I first started training here I was worried about whether this ice would allow athletes to achieve good race times, I think it turned out to be much better than I thought. The ice here is not any worse than at other venues I have been to.
Wang: I just thought about doing my best, get a good start, get into it and don't thinkt oo much about the result. Focus on the race and my technique. I wasn't very happy with my first 500m and the second one got better.
Fatkulina: This medal was harder for me to win that yesterday's one, both phsyically and psychologically. Before the second 500m I had a little rest. Nevertheless, Jenny Wolf is a pretty massive opponent, which intimidated me to some extent. However, after we started the race I calmed down and fought till the very end.
Olympic and defending World Champion Mo impressed in the training before the Men's 500m. But Jan Smeekens (NED) won this year's World Cup and won the last 6 races. In the first half of the race, two skaters were surprisingly fast, Laurent Dubreuil (CAN) skated 35.09 and Denis Koval (RUS) 35.05, both times a track record, and the 35.05 still stood with three pairs to go. As expected, Mo skated a strong race, opened in 9.59, a 25.3 lap brought the track record below 35 in 34.94. Then Ronald Mulder (NED) was paired with Smeekens. After one false start, they were off, 9.61 for Mulder, 9.55 for Smeekens, who stayed loose, could accelerate through the last turn and his lap was a fast 25.2, and set the track record to 34.80. In the final pair Joji Kato (JPN) opened in 9.58, had a wide last inner turn and finished after a 25.3 lap in 34.92, just ahead of Mo, who would still be dangerous in the next pair with the last inner lane.
In the second run, the first good time was Dmitry Lobkov's 35.08, after a 35.18 in the first run. He took the lead with 70.26. Dubreuil and also Pekka Koskela (FIN) in spite of a 35.10 second run ranked behind the Russian. But the best ranked Russian skated in the next pair. He opened in 9.54, his pair-mate Michel Mulder (NED) in 9.58. Mulder skated an excellent lap, where the pressure seemed too much for Koval to repeat it. Koval finished in 35.22, and came 0.01 short to beat Lobkov. But Mulder took the lead, finishing in 34.82, a total of 69.91. Then Kato and Ronald Mulder raced. Kato opened in 9.53, both skaters had a 25.3 lap. This race, Kato finished behind Michel in 34.90, but it was enough to stay ahead of him with 69.82. Ronald finished in 35.02 and had 70.07 in total. In the last pair, Smeekens raced with Mo. Smeekens' opening was not as strong as usual, with 9.72, but Mo opened in 9.56. In the turn, Smeekens made a mis-stroke and lost too much, while Mo went on to take the victory. He won the race in the same time as Mulder, though slower than Smeekens' track record: 34.82. It brought Mo to 69.76. Smeekens finished in a disappointing 35.06, losing to both Mo and Kato and finishing third with 69.86.
Mo: I could not predict such good results. My performance was not that good at World Cups. I was training very hard to win here, at the last event of the season. I still feel there's much for me to learn in speed skating. It is really hard for me.
Kato: I need a gold medal. I have to prepare and practice for the second corner.
Smeekens: I knew I could lose, but I slipped at the start and the second turn I wanted so badly to race towards him but fell over the tips of my blades. Very frustrating. Two years ago I was so happy with bronze, now it was disappointing. After such a good first race to screw up the second, that hurts. A mistake is easily made. You know you cannot always win, but losing here is really sour.
The Ladies' Team Pursuit world title was, as expected, convincingly for the Dutch ladies with Wüst, Leenstra and Valkenburg. They finished in 3:00.02, and were, half a lap before the end, 3 seconds faster than the Canadian team, who lost a silver medal when Nesbitt, skating with Schussler and Blondin, was pushed, lost her balance and fell in the last turn. Thus, silver was for the Olympic bronze team of Poland, as Bachleda-Curus (at the Olympics still called Wójcicka), Czerwonka and Zlotkowska finished in 3:04.90, not far ahead of Korea who took bronze in 3:05.32. Germany followed in 3:05.69 and Russia was fifth, just below 3:06.
Wüst started too fast and had to be called back as Valkenburg had trouble to open that fast. In the end, Valkenburg could hardly follow as Wüst was so strong. Never before the advantage of the winner over the second team has been that high: almost 5 seconds. The greatest difference in history was 1.7 second. Leenstra: It was a heavy race, but we divided our powers well. In the end Diane had some trouble, but it was so fast. Diane: The start was ok, although I had to call back the girls. Ireen can put so much power in one stroke, so in the end, as I was tired, it was hard to follow, so I thought I had to let them go and just finish as good as I could. Wüst: I think we deserved to win. I think we had a good start, the communication is very good, I had to hold back but then I also got a call that I could continue full speed.
The same three nations topped the podium in the men's Team Pursuit. The Dutch men won their sixth title, in 3:42.03 with Sven Kramer, Koen Verweij and Jan Blokhuijsen. The Koreans S.H Lee, Hyung-Joon Joo and Cheol-Min Kim started faster than the Dutch but ended up second with 3:44.60 and in third finished the Polish men (Bródka, Konrad Niedzwiedzki and Jan Szymanski) with 3:45.22, with the Russians in fourth. Verweij: We were in suspense, the speed was not extremely high and our time was possible for the Koreans. Kramer: "Looking at the time, our lap-times fluctuated too much, I think this was not the ultimate race, but good enough to win. Now we are more one team also off the ice, having one goal together even if we have different coaches."