Kolomna / Russia

Sven Kramer (NED) took his fourth world title in the 10,000m on the first day of the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships 2016 in Kolomna. Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) took silver to grab Canada’s first medal in the longest distance for men. Martina Sáblíková (CZE) edged out Ireen Wüst (NED) by 0.08 seconds to take the Ladies 3,000m gold.

Kramer back on top of 10,000m podium
Kramer’s last 10,000m title dated back to 2009 and the Dutchman was eager to conquer the title in his beloved long distance. His main rival was Ted-Jan Bloemen, who crushed Kramer’s world record in Salt Lake City last November. Before the race Kramer even said that Bloemen was the favorite, but on the track he proved himself wrong.

Bloemen started in the penultimate pair with German Patrick Beckert and Kramer faced Bart Swings (BEL) in the final pair. In the first pair Bloemen’s teammate Jordan Belchos (CAN) set the bar at 13:10.99. The Canadian led the pack into the ice cleaning break after three pairs.

On clean ice Erik Jan Kooiman (NED) raised the bar with a balanced race in the fourth pair. After a slow 37.4 opening he skated 12 sub- 32 and 12 sub-31 laps to finish in 13:02.15, which eventually got him the bronze medal.

Bloemen attacked Kooiman’s time straight from the start with a 33.7 opener and increased his advantage over the Dutchman in the following three sub-31 laps. But Bloemen had to pay for his high tempo soon. “It was a tough race because I couldn’t find my rhythm,” he said. “The middle section is always the toughest. In the beginning fast laps come easy and towards the end it’s racing for the finish-line, but in the middle section you have to show guts.” Bloemen suffered, but did not surrender. Although his advantage over Kooiman was almost gone at 8000 meters, he managed to fight back and finish in 12:59.69.

Kramer knew what he was up to and he did what he had to do. His 33.9 opener was a bit slower than Bloemen, but he stayed close to Bloemen’s intermediate times in the first couple of laps, to take advantage of Bloemen’s half-race struggles. “I’m glad with my race. It’s not even a very fast time, but it was super balanced.” Kramer finished in 12:56.77 and was happy to be back on top of the podium after seven years. “I never lost faith in my 10,000m, but yes it feels pretty good to be up there again.” Bloemen was happy with silver, but he’ll challenge Kramer again. “This feels good, but next year it’s gold,” he said.

Close win for Sáblíková 
Martina Sáblíková won all five 3,000m races this season and was expected to pick up her fourth world title in this event easily. The Czech lady took the ice in the penultimate pair with Marije Joling (NED). Reigning Olympic Champion Ireen Wüst had already set a high standard in the second pair, when she finished in 4:03.13 to beat compatriot Antoinette de Jong, who had set 4:04.25 in the first pair.

Claudia Pechstein (GER) made an effort to challenge Wüst and De Jong, but she had to bow her head with 4:05.09, which eventually got her fourth place. When Sáblíková and Joling took the ice, Wüst and De Jong still led the pack. The Czech and the Dutch skated a tight race with intermediate times very close to those of Wüst. Halfway the race Joling had to let Sáblíková go, but the Czech fell behind on Wüst’s schedule. It was only in the last meters of the final straight that Sáblíková managed to beat Wüst, who didn’t know whether to celebrate for winning silver of mourn over lost gold.

“It’s a pity, but on the other hand I’m very proud. It’s difficult to be one of the first skaters to race. You have to do it all by yourself. The same goes for Antoinette, of whom I’m very proud too”, Wüst said. With the bronze medal twenty-year-old De Jong took her first ever podium spot in the World Single Distance Championships.