Erfurt / Germany

Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) secured this season’s World Cup in both the 500m and the 1000m at the ISU Word Cup Final in the Gunda-Niemann-Stirnemann-Halle Erfurt on Friday. The Russian rocket also conquered the Grand World Cup, as no one can catch up with him anymore. Jorrit Bergsma (NED) won the World Cup for the combined 5000 and 10,000m.

Ireen Wüst led the Ladies’ Grand World Cup standings, but she decided not to compete in Erfurt. Heather Richardson (USA) and Martina Sábliková (CZE) started the season as the main contenders for the Ladies’ Grand World Cup. On the first day of the final weekend Marrit Leenstra (NED) secured the 1500m World Cup.

Richardson fastest in 500m field, Kodaira close to World Cup win
After a long season only two contenders were left to win the ladies 500m World Cup. Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) was in the lead with 880 points, but absent in Erfurt. Number two, Nao Kodaira (JPN), had to make up a gap of 150 points.

With a win, Kodaira could get equal points with Lee, but she has not been in great shape after she got ill at the World Sprint Championships three weeks ago. The Japanese lady finished fourth with 38.27, earning 90 points and needing another top-5 finish on Sunday.

Heather Richardson took the victory one day after her 26th birthday. She set 37.80, and climbed past Judith Hesse (GER), to rank 3 with 560 points. Britanny Bowe (USA) was second with 37.93 and Yekaterina Aydova (KAZ) finished in third place with 38.15. The Kazak lady celebrated her first ever podium finish in the World Cup.

With one race to go, Lee still leads with 880 points, Kodaira follows with 820, while Richardson (560 points) passed Hesse, who is fourth with 517.

Leenstra grabs the 1500m World Cup, Bowe wins in Erfurt
In the ladies 1500m, leader Wüst gave up her chances of winning the World Cup when she decided she was too tired to race again. Wüst had 340 points with Leenstra (320) and Richardson (280) close behind. Theoretically, Ida Njåtun (NOR, 228), Bowe (220) and Sábliková (CZE, 207) could still win as well.

Sábliková was the first of the favourites to start and she had a good race with laps of 29.1, 30.0 and 31.3 to set 1:56.74, which was good enough for the bronze on Saturday. That result keeps her in the race for the Grand World Cup.

In the penultimate pair Bowe beat Njåtun, with laps of 28.8, 30.2 and a good finish of 31.3. Her 1:55.88 was the mark to beat for Richardson and Leenstra. Both ladies had the fast openers, and Richardson continued with a lap of 28.3 (28.6 Leenstra). Then Leenstra skated a 30.4 lap, Richardson 30.6. Both skaters looked tired, but Richardson finished with a 31.9 lap, just missing the victory in 1:55.99. Leenstra couldn’t keep up with her and finished with a 33.0 lap to set the fourth time: 1:57.45 just 0.01 ahead of Njåtun. That small margin gave her the edge over Richardson in the final World Cup ranking. Leenstra won the World Cup with 410 points, Richardson finished second with 400, Bowe third with 370, and Wüst (340) dropped to rank four. 

Kulizhnikov secures World Cup in 500m
In the Men’s 500m, Kulizhnikov had a lead of 219 points over second-ranked Laurent Dubreuil (CAN), while Tae-Bum Mo (KOR) was the only other skater within 300 points from Kulizhnikov. However, Mo did not bother to come to Erfurt, so just like in the ladies’ field, there were only two contenders left.

Kulizhnikov made sure he did not need to skate another day. He won this first 500m in a new track record of 34.71, taking the full 150 points and securing the World Cup with 930 points. Olympic Champion Michel Mulder (NED) was second in 34.94 and his compatriot Gerben Jorritsma finished third in 35.25. Dubreuil ended up fourth in 35.26 and thus secured second place in the ranking with 651 points. Mo is still third before Artur Was (POL), Nico Ihle (GER) and Michel Mulder.

Kulizhnikov also takes the 1000m World Cup and the Grand World Cup
Kulizhnikov and Kjeld Nuis (NED) were the two main contenders to win the 1000m World Cup. The Russian was leading with 510 points, Nuis followed with 451, and third was Nico Ihle (GER) with 326 points. The two leaders were also leading in the Grand World Cup.

Denny Morrison (CAN) won the 1000m in 1:09.07, the seventh fastest time in this hall. His final lap of 26.8 made the difference. However, he did not have enough points to be dangerous in the ranking.

Ihle set 1:09.55 in the penultimate pair. He was third behind Morrison and Vincent de Haître (CAN, 1:09.47) with only Kulizhnikov and Nuis to go. The Russian and the Dutchman were and faster, but Ihle’s fifth place was enough for a total of 402 points third place in the final classification. He was the first German on a final 1000m World Cup podium since Mey and Zinke in 1990.

In the final pair, Nuis managed to stay close to Kulizhnikov in the opening and his first lap was equal to that of the Russian. In the final lap Nuis had the least trouble, but with 1:09.42 he had to settle for silver behind Morrison. Kulizhnikov ended up fourth in 1:09.52, which was enough to win the 1000m World Cup. He was the first skater in history to win the World Cup in both sprint distances, as well as the Grand World Cup in the same season. After Saturday’s success, he decided not to race on Sunday anymore.

Bergsma wins the long distance World Cup
The best long distance skaters were very close together in points; Bob de Jong (NED) was leading with 301 points, followed by Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR) with 295, Alexandr Rumyantsev (RUS) with 285 and Jorrit Bergsma with 280.

Patrick Beckert (GER) was no contender for a World Cup podium place, but he finished third in the World Cup Final. With 6:21.80 he skated the second fastest time ever in Erfurt at the time.

Jorrit Bergsma beat Beckert’s time with 6:17.49. He was slower than Sven Kramer’s track record, but unbeatable for his rivals and he won the long distance World Cup win for the third consecutive season.

In the final pair De Jong bowed his head for Pedersen. The Norwegian took the lead and never gave it up, to finish in 6:20.64 and take the silver. Pedersen thus ended up second in the final ranking as well. De Jong finished sixth in 6:23.59, to end up third in the World Cup ranking.