On the second day of the Essent ISU World Cup in Astana track records were set in the Men’s 500m and 1000m. There were three personal best times.
Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) notched up her second 500m victory of this weekend, although in a slightly slower time of 37.32. Jenny Wolf (GER) again took second place, with a time of 37.66, and Olga Fatkulina (RUS) finished third in 37.81. Yesterday’s bronze winner Nao Kodaira (JPN) did not compete in the 500m today as she was due to start in the 1500m less than an hour later. Lee leads the World Cup with 600 points, Wolf follows with 408 and Heather Richardson (USA) has 360.
In the Men’s 500m the fifth pair was surprisingly competitive. Two Russians, Artyom Kuznetsov and the very experienced Dmitry Lobkov, battled for the national honour. Kuznetsov opened a little faster than Lobkov, in 9.63 (versus 9.72), but Lobkov made up most of the difference with a 25.1 lap (versus 25.2). The result was that both skaters were below the old track record. Kuznetsov took the victory with 34.85, Lobkov finished in 34.86. Nobody after that had a faster lap than Lobkov or a faster time. Closest came Ronald Mulder (NED), opening in 9.59 and a lap of 25.2, which resulted in 34.87 and bronze. Mulder increased his World Cup lead on Tae-Bum Mo (KOR) who finished only ninth here. In the absence of Jamie Gregg (CAN), Ronald’s brother Michel Mulder took over third place in the ranking.
The top-ranked skaters, Ireen Wüst and Lotte van Beek (NED), did not travel to Astana and Richardson did not start so soon after the 500m, giving Brittany Bowe (USA) the opportunity to take over the lead in the ranking. Olga Graf (RUS) produced the first strong race. Although she had the slowest opening by more than half a second, this was followed by an even build-up of 29.4, 30.0 and 30.8 (the fastest last lap). In pair five, Brittany Schussler (CAN) opened a second stronger than Graf, gained 0.3 in the first lap, then lost 0.2 in the second and another full second in the last, just enough to take the lead in 1:57.78. Nobody else managed to break 1:58 until the last pair, featuring Bowe and Julia Skokova (RUS). Bowe opened a second faster than Schussler and Skokova was not far behind. Although they did not manage to keep up that pace, they did not totally hand in their advantage. Bowe took the victory in 1:57.28; Skokova was second in 1:57.70. Nobody came near the track record of 1:56.10. Bowe now leads the World Cup ranking with 199 points, Wüst with 180 is still second, Skokova has 162.
This race was also missing a few of the top skaters of the past weeks, notably Brian Hansen (USA) and Kjeld Nuis (NED), but World Cup leader Shani Davis (USA) was present, and again he won. Earlier in the day, Pim Schipper (NED) had won the B-division in 1:09.01, and that was still the fastest time until the fifth pair raced. Mirko Giacomo Nenzi (ITA) was paired with track record holder Stefan Groothuis (NED). Nenzi is Italy’s best sprinter and both Groothuis and he produced a good race, but in the final lap Nenzi surprised by a strong finish. His 1:08.90 was only 0.05 outside the track record. In pair nine Michel Mulder had the fastest start of the day with 16.34, and then lost a little to Nenzi, finishing in 1:09.02 – fast but still a hundredth slower than the winning B-division time. In the tenth and last pair, Shani Davis used the final lap (26.3) to make the difference. He took the track record in 1:08.66. Mulder’s time held up for the bronze. It was Nenzi’s first podium finish in a World Cup. Davis now has the full 300 points, Nuis is still second with 160 and Michel Mulder moved up to third with 152 points.
Tomorrow’s program has the second 500m and 10,000m for Men, and the 1000m for Ladies.