The fourth Essent ISU World Cup of this season and the last one before the Olympic Games started today in Berlin. Sang-Hwa Lee set another track record, the Men’s 1500m had a surprising winner and the victor in the 3000m B-division was faster than the winner in the A-division. There were four personal best times.
Michel Mulder took the second Essent ISU World Cup victory in his life in the Men’s 500m. The first one was also in Berlin. He finished in 34.80, while Tae-Bum Mo (KOR), his strong pair mate, was 0.09 slower. Keiichiro Nagashima (JPN), the only one so far this year to win two 500m races, finished in third place in 35.01. The World Cup leader Ronald Mulder did not participate. Mo took over the lead and has 427 points, Michel Mulder has 388 and his brother Ronald 376 points.
In the Ladies’ 500m, Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) continued her winning streak. She opened in 10.20 and reached the time 37.36, well under the former track record of Jenny Wolf (GER) that was 37.52. Wolf today stayed close by Lee in their head-to-head race, opening in 10.28, but slipped away in the inner turn and fell. Olga Fatkulina (RUS) reached the second place with 37.71 and Beixing Wang (CHN) was third in 37.79. Lee leads with 700 points, Wolf dropped to third with 413 points just behind Heather Richardson (USA), who is second with 420 points after her fourth place today.
In the B-division, Dutch skater Jorien ter Mors raced her first World Cup race in long track this year, after competing in all short track races. She won the B-division in 4:02.23, a very fast time in Berlin. Only Martina Sábliková (CZE) has been faster twice.
In the A-division the skaters with most World Cup points raced. Ireen Wüst (NED) skated her second 3000m in this season’s World Cup and missed the time of Ter Mors earlier in the day. Wüst still did well with 4:03.50. The first who came close was Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus (POL), who had never before been this fast in Europe, 4:03.90. It would give her fourth place. In the final pair the duel was as usual between Sábliková and Claudia Pechstein (GER). Sábliková stayed close to Pechstein and they were slower than Bachleda-Curus at 220m, but in the final laps they continued without losing much speed and Sábliková even managed to speed up in the penultimate lap, to take the victory in 4:02.25; Pechstein was second with 4:02.96. It is noteworthy that they just missed the time of Ter Mors, the fastest of the day: “I am not surprised, I know what I’m worth. But it is nice to be able to show that you are someone to be reckoned with, even when you start in the B-division.”
Sáblikova leads the World Cup ranking with 380 points, Pechstein has 340 and Antoinette de Jong follows with 180, 10 points ahead of Bachleda-Curus.
The Men’s 1500m had a surprise winner, who had never finished in the top 10 before but had won last week’s B-division. Starting in pair four, former inline skating world champion Joey Mantia (USA) started in 23.84, had laps of 26.2, 27.1 and 28.5 to post a time of 1:45.80. Only Zbigniew Bródka (POL) could come close, with a similarly constructed race he reached 1:45.83. The podium was completed by Dmitry Yuskov (RUS), who overtook his pair mate Shani Davis (USA) in a 28.2 last lap, to finish in 1:46.14. Mantia said: “I had many ups and downs on ice. I did not have the control I used to have on inlines. It was frustrating. I guess I am better on slow ice when the speed in the turns is lower.”
The leader in the World Cup, Koen Verweij, did not participate and remains on 250 points. Shani Davis overtook him now with 266 points. Yuskov is third with 244.
Tomorrow the second 500m and the 1500m for Ladies, and the 1000m for Men will be skated.