On the last day of the Essent ISU World Cup in Salt Lake City the air pressure was not as low as on previous days. In the Ladies' 1000m, Brittany Bowe (USA) set a world record of only 1:12.58 and Hyun-Yung Kim (KOR) skated a Junior WR: 1:14.95. There were several exciting races, notably the Men's 5000m, which Sven Kramer won in the third-best time ever, setting a track record in the process.
Among the 53 PBs today were 11 NRs: for Austria (Vanessa Bittner, 1:15.36), Belgium (Bart Swings, 6:13.37), Finland (Elina Risku, 1:18.46), Japan (Nao Kodaira, 1:13.98), the Netherlands (Ronald Mulder, 34.25; Ireen Wüst, 1:13.33), Russia (Olga Fatkulina, 1:13.40; Ivan Skobrev, 6:08.77), Sweden (Johanna Östlund, 1:18.01), Switzerland (Kaitlyn McGregor, 1:17.53) and USA (Brittany Bowe, 1:12.58).
Ta-Bum Mo (KOR) and Keiichiro Nagashima (JPN) skated together early in the 500m. Mo had fallen on Friday and skipped the 1000m, but today against such a great opponent, he was back in top shape. Both skated faster than they had ever done before, resulting in 34.24, the tenth-best time ever, for Nagashima and 34.28 for Mo. Three pairs later Ronald Mulder lowered his personal best to 34.25. His twin brother Michel had skated a Dutch record on Friday of 34.26, but now that NR is back in Ronald's possession. Michel finished in fourth place today, with 34.41.
For the World Cup this means that Ronald Mulder leads after four races with 274 points; Mo follows with 235, Gregg has 230 and Michel Mulder 222.
The 1000m for Ladies produced a high level of performance, with seven skaters below 1:14. After her world record yesterday in the 500m, Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) withdrew today. Hyun-Yung Kim (KOR), who last week set a Junior world record of 1:15.11 when she won the B-division, went even better with a time of 1:14.95. Pair 8 was an all-Dutch affair: Margot Boer dominated the first half of the race; Ireen Wüst was faster in the second. Wüst won the pair in 1:13.33 and Boer skated 1:13.77, both personal bests. Wüst regained the Dutch record she lost last week to Lotte van Beek and did so with laps of 27.0 and 28.0. Next up were Brittany Bowe (USA) and Olga Fatkulina (RUS). A strong sprinter, Bowe opened in 17.86, then managed a 26.5 first lap and, with a following lap of 28.2, she took the world record that had been Christine Nesbitt's (1:12.68) with a time of 1:12.58. In her wake Fatkulina skated a Russian record of 1:13.40. In the final pair both Heather Richardson and Van Beek had just lost a NR and chased to win it back. Van Beek did not manage the NR, but Richardson came close. She opened with 17.61, then a 26.6 lap and finally 28.3, finishing in 1:12.61, also below the former record of Nesbitt (CAN), who looks a shadow of the outstanding skater she once was. Richardson still leads the World Cup rankings.
Bowe, a former inline champion from Florida, said: That was a great race, a dream. You don't think about a world record while you race, only about technique. I had a really good time in my 500 and had a great 1500. They set up this race. Am I ecstatic? Yes! It was great to be with my team-mate on the podium.
Sven Kramer seems unbeatable at this distance. He won again, in a track record time of 6:04.59. When he started in the last pair, he knew the time to beat, as his countryman Bob de Jong had skated a personal best of 6:07.43. Kramer raced with Jorrit Bergsma, and for much of the race it was a close duel between the two. After 3800m, Kramer threw in a really fast lap of 27.6 to shake off Bergsma and continued with two mid 28s. Bergsma skated two low 29s and then finished with a 30.0 lap, which cost him second place as well. It was Kramer's 29th World Cup victory. De Jong took silver and Bergsma bronze for an all-Dutch podium.
Kramer said: It is 1500m altitude, and then nothing is easy, not even walking stairs. Jorrit was explosive. My plan was not to give too much and then strike in the last few laps. I am happy with the way I skate and how I can play with lap times. I was a bit shocked myself with the 27.6. I did not come to skate a world record, just to win with as little energy as necessary. I feel I skate easier now than when I skated the world record. Bergsma added: A man-to-man race was not smart, the lap times went up and down: that costs energy. I need to skate an even race. It was not necessary to be slower than last week.
Ladies' Team Pursuit
The Ladies' teams tried hard to set good times on the fast ice, as the last qualifying race for the Winter Olympic Games will be in Berlin, where times are not usually that fast. The six highest-ranked teams qualify at that point, along with the one or two teams outside the top six who record the fastest times after the Berlin World Cup event.
The Dutch Ladies “ Wüst, Linda de Vries and Antoinette de Jong “ won in 2:56.02, a NR. In second place finished the Canadian world record holders, in 2:56.90, and the last podium spot went to the USA, who also had a very strong team in Bowe, Richardson and Jilleanne Rookard and skated a NR of 2:57.09. There were eight NRs in the Team Pursuit, apart from the two mentioned: CHN 3:00.21, ITA 3:00.83, JAP 2:57.26, KOR 2:58.32, NOR 2:59.47, POL 2:58.01.
In two weeks the skaters will continue in Astana (KAZ).