Berlin / Germany

Sven Kramer (NED) anticipated on a record extending eighth world allround title, when he took a firm lead in the classification after Day 1 of the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships in Berlin. His rivals crashed, withdrew or just had to settle for Kramer’s supremacy in the 5000m.

Martina Sábliková (CZE) and Ireen Wüst (NED) put up a great fight in the ladies’ competition. The Czech lady edged out Wüst in an exciting 3000m and leads overnight with a 0.03 margin in Sunday’s 1500m over her Dutch arch rival.

Double surprise by Yuskov
Denis Yuskov (RUS) was the talk of the town in Berlin, when he won the Men’s 500m in 35.84. The Russian 1500m World Champion was the only one to finish below 36 seconds and he had a 0.7 points gap over defending champion Kramer in the classification. However, after his race Yuskov came up with another surprise. Having started the competition with a groin injury, the classification leader decided to withdraw before the 5000m.

Håvard Bøkko (NOR) and Konrad Niedzwiedzki (POL) completed the podium in the 500m with 36.18 and 36.24 respectively. After Yuskov’s withdrawal Bøkko started the 5000m as leader in the classification. Kramer was eighth in the 500m in 36.54. His compatriot Jan Blokhuijsen (36.46, 6th), Belgian Bart Swings (36.67, 11th) and Norwegian Sverre Lunde Pedersen (36.79, 12th) all finished within a second from Yuskov in the 500m, to keep their ambition for a medal alive.

Kramer leaves no room for doubt
Sven Kramer did not want to be misunderstood in the 5000m. The Dutchman skated a very good 6:14.13 in the final pair and was over two seconds faster than number two, Pedersen. The Norwegian started in the penultimate pair versus Swings. The two were fighting a tight battle until the Belgian crashed after 1400m. Pedersen carried on as if nothing happened and finished in 6:16.89. Swings stood up, completed the race in 6:56.40, but his podium dreams were over, and on top of it he faced a DQ at his name.

Blokhuijsen finished in 6:17.80 to take third place in the distance. The Dutchman thus kept a 0.239 point margin over Pedersen for second place in the classification. In Sunday’s 1500m the gap between the two is 0.71 seconds. Blokhuijsen is 0.87 behind Kramer in the 1500m. Thanks to his good 500m Bøkko, who was eighth with 6:27.97 in the 5000m, is ranked fourth overall. In the 1500m he is 1.50 behind Pedersen.

Japanese ladies sweep 500m
Miho Takagi led a surprise attack by the Japanese ladies in the 500m on Saturday. She won the shortest distance in 38.93. Her compatriots Misaki Oshigiri (38.95) and Ayaka Kikuchi (39.34) came second and third for a Japanese podium sweep.

Dutch Ireen Wüst (39.41) and Antoinette de Jong (39.44) were best of the rest. They needed as big a margin as they could get over long distance specialist Sábliková. The defending champion controlled the damage with 39.62, much to her joy, to finish seventh.

Close 3000m battle
In the 3000m the Japanese ladies had to try and control the damage. They were not able to keep their podium ranks. Oshigiri finished sixth in 4:07.82 and dropped to fourth place in the ranking. Takagi had to settle for fifth place in the ranking after finishing tenth in the 5000m with 4:09.04. Kikuchi 4:10.75 (12) even dropped to eighth place overall.           

De Jong set the bar in the 3000m when she skated 4:02.88. She left the Japanese ladies behind in the classification, but had to wait for Wüst and Sábliková to see what is was worth at the end of the day. Wüst was the first lady to finish below four minutes, with a superb track record of 3:59.43 in the penultimate pair, making Berlin the fourth sub-4 track in the world on the ladies’ 3000m.

Sábliková knew what to do, but improving a time like that wasn’t easy. The Czech skater was slower in the first 2200 meters, but beat Wüst’s time with two final laps of 31.4 and 31.6 versus Wüst’s 31.9 and 32.6. Sábliková’s track record winning time was 3:58.11. In the classification Sábliková has a 0.01 point advantage over Wüst, which translates into an advantage of 0.03 in the 1500m tomorrow. De Jong is third, 0.615 points behind the leader.  

On Sunday the Championships continue with the 1500m and the 5000m for the eight best ladies and the 10,000m for the eight best men.