Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) set a new track record and the fastest time ever on a lowland track with 1:08.16 to take gold in the Men’s 1000m in Heerenveen’s Thialf Stadium on Saturday.
Sven Kramer (NED) beat compatriot Jorrit Bergsma in an exciting battle in the men’s 5000m and Japan beat the Dutch ladies on home ice in the Team Pursuit. Brittany Bowe beat fellow American Heather Richardson-Bergsma for the third time in a row to add another 1000m gold to her impressive list of honour.
Third 1000m gold in a row for Bowe
“No secrets”, said Brittany Bowe after winning her third consecutive 1000m World Cup race. The American world record holder won with 1:14.49 in Thialf. “It’s all in the preparation”, she said “You don’t really see what’s going on behind the scenes, but we’re in a very tough training cycle right now. I definitely have some tension in the legs, but skating very well technically is what gets me to the finish line. That’s my big improvement over the past two years. I’m able to carry those technical key points throughout to the end.” Bowe was pleased with her performance, but she looked ahead as well: “It’s a long season. It’s nice to win now, but the goal is to win in in February.”
After winning the first 1000m World Cup race this season Heather Richardson-Bergsma (USA) lost for the third time in a row in a head-to-head battle against Bowe. She finished in 1:15.33 to take silver after a very tough final lap. Richardson felt a little tired in Heerenveen. “I’ve done so many races this season, also skating the mass start. This race was very fast from the start and in the last lap my legs were just so tired.”
Marrit Leenstra (NED) took bronze after defeating Hong Zhang (CHN) in the penultimate pair. With 1:15.77 Leenstra was closer to the American ladies than she had been in the previous World Cups. “In the final lap I don’t lose very much anymore, I just have to start faster”, Leenstra said.
Bowe strengthened her lead in the 1000m World Cup standings with 380 points, ahead of Richardson (330) and Leenstra (225). Despite being third behind the dominant Americans Leenstra doesn’t want to be called ‘best of the rest’: “The gap is still big indeed, but I don’t think like that. I want to skate my own race.”
Kramer wins battle of the long distance Titans
Dutch long distance arch rivals Sven Kramer and Jorrit Bergsma (NED) faced each other in the penultimate pair of the 5000m. Kramer took gold after a fierce battle that resulted in 6:14.99. “A head-to-head race is not good for a fast time, but it’s great for the public and it’s fun to do,” said Kramer, who really enjoyed the fight. Bergsma was a little distracted by his opponent: “When he is behind, you can still hear him and it’s hard to focus forward when you’re distracted from behind, but I’m sure he doesn’t do that on purpose.”
Bergsma, who finished in 6:16.41, said Kramer is the better head-to-head racer of the two. “But this was a good encounter. The first part of my race was fast. Sven stayed close and I think I let it slip a little in the penultimate lap. Sven passed me slower than I expected, but I had lost too much pace to come back.”
Bart Swings (BEL) grabbed bronze to take his first career medal in a 5000m World Cup race. He set his time in the fifth pair and had to wait a while before he knew it would be good enough for the podium. “I was not sure at all, Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR) came very close, within 0.18 of a second. I was quick in the beginning and he was fast towards the end”. he said. Swings finished in 6:20.80. “I aimed at a race below 6:20. My race was a bit uneven, not every stroke was good but overall I’m satisfied. I look forward to the 1500m and the Mass Start tomorrow.”
Bergsma still leads the World Cup ranking with 330 points over Kramer, who holds 280 points, after missing the Inzell World Cup. Lunde Pedersen follows with 205.
Back-to-back gold for Japan
After their Team Pursuit win in Inzell the Japanese ladies (Ayaka Kikuchi, Nana Takagi and Miho Takagi) took another victory in Heerenveen. Japan thus became the fourth nation to win back-to-back Ladies’ Team Pursuit World Cup events after Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.
Japan set a new track record of 2:59.58 in the final race versus the Netherlands (Marrit Leenstra, Linda de Vries and Antoinette de Jong), who clocked 3:01.26 to take silver. Linda de Vries stumbled and almost crashed two laps from the finish. That mistake cost them the lead and the gold in the end. “It’s a pity because we really went well”, Leenstra said. De Vries was surprised she even stayed on her feet after stumbling. “Maybe I should become a figure skater”, she joked. “It’s difficult to accelerate again after such an incident,” De Vries added.
Japan took advantage of the Dutch mistake. “I saw what happened and thought, wow we’re the best”, Ayaka Kikuchi said. The Japanese ladies are very dedicated: “We always train together. We have good communication and teamwork.”
Poland (Natalia Czerwonka, Katarzyna Wozniak and Luiza Zlotkowska) took the bronze medal in 3:01.51.
Japan took the lead in the Team Pursuit World Cup with 280 points. The Netherlands dropped to second place with 260 points and Russia, who finished fourth in Heerenveen, are third with 200 points.
Track record Kulizhnikov
Pavel Kulizhnikov continued where he left off after Friday’s 500m gold, when he took another victory in the 1000m on Saturday. The Russian also added another track record to his tally when he set 1:08.16, to beat Kjeld Nuis’ previous 1:08.25. He did not even think that he is at his peak just yet: “I always focus on my technique. I think if this would have been a World Championships race, I could have been faster.”
Kulizhnikov set his time in the penultimate pair. His compatriot Denis Yuskov had already clocked 1:08.59 in the sixth pair. It was Russian gold and silver when Kjeld Nuis (NED) took the ice in the final pair and the Russians stayed on top of the podium. Nuis had just lost his track record, but he did not want to skate an all or nothing race, because he did not want to put the possibility of securing a ticket for the World Single Distance Championships at risk. He skated a shaky second inner turn. “That’s where I lost it. I was anxious not to crash so I was careful. I made up for it at the crossover, but that cost too much energy. Normally I can take 0.3 back on Kulizhnikov in the final lap, but now I had wasted too much energy”, he said. In 1:08.61 Nuis did secure a bronze medal and his World Championships ticket for the 1000m.
Yuskov was happy to have won silver, but he aims at the World Single Distance Championships in February. “It’s my second medal in the 1000m, so I’m getting faster. But my main goal are the 1000m and 1500m in Kolomna. There will be many children watching those races and if I skate well, there may be even more children who go skating back home.”