On the last day of the Essent ISU World Cup in 2013 Heather Richardson (USA) was in great shape again, just missing the 1000m track record on her way to victory in that event. Brian Hansen (USA), meanwhile, had his revenge in the 1500m with a new track record of 1:44.58.
Due to the absence of the Korean team in Inzell, Tae-Bum Mo lost his lead in the World Cup and now the battle for overall victory is between the twin brothers Michel and Ronald Mulder (NED). Michel lost some of his advantage on Saturday, but today he skated better with a time of 35.00. It was still not as fast as his brother was the previous day, but Ronald did not win today as, in the penultimate pair, Jan Smeekens (NED) raced to 34.91 for his first victory of the season, and Ronald, who in the final pair met Nico Ihle (GER), could not better that time. Ihle’s first podium finish in Saturday’s 500m had apparently boosted his confidence and he had another strong race, finishing in 34.97, thus adding silver to his bronze. Ronald Mulder lost the race in his full lap, and with a time of 35.18 could finish only eighth. Michel Mulder is now third overall with 578 points, while Ronald has 512 but he will pass Mo, who has 527 points, if the Koreans don’t reconsider their planned absence from the World Cup Final in Heerenveen next week. Artyom Kuznyetsov (RUS) is now fourth with 447 points.
The 1000m for ladies had to make do without Olympic champion Hong Zhang (CHN) and Ireen Wüst (NED), but the podium was identical to the last podium before the Olympic Games. Heather Richardson won her fourth race out of five with a time of 1:14.87, just 0.03sec outside the track record skated by Canada’s Christine Nesbitt in 2011. World record holder Brittany Bowe (USA) was second again in 1:15.26, keeping Olga Fatkulina (RUS) behind her. The Russian finished in 1:15.34 and kept Olympic bronze medallist Margot Boer (NED), who skated 1:15.40, off the podium. Her 100 points today gave Richardson a total of 480, team-mate Bowe is second on 410 while Fatkulina is a distant third on 320. With 150 points for the winner next week, it is certain that only one of the American ladies can win the Cup.
The Men’s 1500m has had a different winner each time. Following Koen Verweij (NED), Shani Davis (USA), Dmitry Yuskov (RUS) and Joey Mantia (USA), there was once again a different winner today when Brian Hansen proved he was better than his seventh-place Olympic ranking indicated. He opened in 23.59 (only Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands had opened faster) and had the fastest first lap of 25.6, the fastest second lap of 26.9 together with Olympic bronze medalist Denny Morrison (CAN), and the second-fastest final lap of 28.4, thus improving the track record, that had belonged to his pair mate Håvard Bøkko (NOR), by half a second to 1:44.58. Morrison was best of the rest, finishing in 1:45.28, while Verweij, who has not missed a single podium whenever he has raced over this distance in his most consistent season ever, finished third, narrowly beating World Cup leader Shani Davis, 1:45.68 to 1:45.72. Olympic champion Zbigniew Bródka (POL) was fifth with 1:45.88. Davis kept his lead in the World Cup, but his 326 points may not be enough next week to hold off Verweij, who has 320 points, while Bródka, on 281, is under threat from Yuskov who has 280. Hansen, who had missed the past two World Cup races, jumped up to fifth overall on 205 points, overtaking Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR), who withdrew today together with Mantia.
Start Janneke Ensing soon took the lead and the first sprint, ahead of Mariska Huisman (NED), Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA) and Ivanie Blondin (CAN). The next intermediate sprint was won by Lollobrigida, who had escaped two laps earlier, followed by Irene Schouten (NED), Blondin and Ensing. Ensing tried to skate away, but Claudia Pechstein (GER) followed her and the sprint with five laps to go gave Ensing the five points, Pechstein three, Huisman two and Maria Lamb (USA) one point for fourth. A fall by Roxanne Dufter (GER) then took out Nana Takagi (JPN), Luiza Zlotkowska (POL) and Anna Ringsred (USA), and Ensing and Pechstein worked together and gained half a lap on the pack. In the final straight Ensing failed to pass Pechstein, who won with 31 points plus the three from the previous sprint. Ensing got 15 for her second place for a total of 26, Schouten was third with 10 extra points for a total of 13, while Huisman and Lollobrigida followed with 10 points apiece.
Richardson also leads the Grand World Cup, the ranking over all distances, with 89.5 points ahead of Wüst with 69 and Bowe with 66. The men’s Grand World Cup leader is Shani Davis with 76 points, in front of Koen Verweij with 48 and Michel Mulder with 44. Considering the distances in Heerenveen and who will skate there, it is unlikely that Davis will not win the Grand World Cup.
Next week the World Cups conclude with the Final in Heerenveen (NED).