The Netherlands finally managed to equal Norway with 36 Men’s World Allround titles on Sunday, when Sven Kramer secured his record extending eighth World Allround gold in Berlin. Norway held its outright lead in the nations medal table since 1908. Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR) did everything he could in defense of his country in Berlin, but he had to bow his head for Kramer and finished second. Jan Blokhuijsen (NED) took the bronze medal.
In the Ladies’ tournament Martina Sábliková (CZE) defeated Ireen Wüst (NED) in a hard fought battle to take her career fourth World Allround Title. With silver Wüst became the second woman to win a medal at ten consecutive World Allround Championships, after Pechstein (11 in 1996-2006). Antoinette de Jong (NED) finished in third place.
Pedersen makes mark in 1500m
The Men’s 1500m ended with a Norwegian race and a Dutch race. In the penultimate pair Sverre Lunde Pedersen faced compatriot Håvard Bøkko. Pedersen started Sunday as number three in the overall ranking, 0.71 seconds behind second ranked Jan Blokhuijsen (NED) in the 1500m. Pedersen won the distance in 1:46.24. Only two men skated a time below 1:47. Konrad Niedzwiedzki (POL) finished second in the 1500m with 1:46.84, with which he secured a slot in the final 10,000m.
Kramer took on Blokhuijsen, who had been sick overnight, in the final pair of the 1500m. They were like a hunter and his prey. The defending champion closely followed his compatriot in the first 700m and attacked in the penultimate lap. Blokhuijsen had to let him pass, but managed to keep his pair-mate in sight. Kramer finished in 1:47.05 to take third place in the distance and Blokhuijsen clocked 1:47.66 to end up sixth. Pedersen overtook Blokhuijsen in the overall ranking.
“I skated my best 1500m of the season”, Pedersen said. He was 5.12 seconds behind Kramer in the 10,000m. “It’s hard to beat him. He is the world champion in the 10,000m. I have to stay ahead of Blokhuijsen. I have to attack and go for it,” he added.
Kramer superior in 10,000m
With Bøkko 16.54 seconds behind Blokhuijsen in fourth place of the overall ranking, the podium was secure for the top three. Blokhuijsen faced Bøkko in the penultimate pair of the 10,000m and the Dutchman had to set a high bar for Pedersen, who would take on Kramer in the final pair.
Blokhuijsen challenged the track record (13.09,06), which Kramer had set at the 2008 World Allround Championships in Berlin. In the last three laps he couldn’t keep up with Kramer’s track record pace, but with 13:10.92 Blokhuijsen did challenge Pedersen’s second place in the overall ranking.
Pedersen did not bother about a fight for silver, however. The Norwegian tried to attack Kramer for gold. He skated at track record pace and faster than Blokhuijsen from the very start. Kramer waited and followed. The two stayed side by side until the 8400 split. With four laps to go Kramer accelerated to leave Pedersen behind. The defending champion lowered his own track record to 13:07.19 and thus secured the title. Pedersen finished third in the 10,000m (13:11.83) and made sure the overall silver went to Norway. Blokhuijsen was happy to take bronze: “This is my best tournament this year. I’m slowly getting back to the level I want to be.”
Kramer had been confident throughout the weekend. “It’s also nice when it’s a tight battle, but when it’s boring I know that I’ve done very well”, the champion said.
Track record for Wüst
Ireen Wüst had to beat Martina Sábliková by a 0.03 second margin to take the lead after three distances. Although the Dutchwoman did not think she had a real shot at the overall title, she gave it her everything in the 1500m. At the 1100m split Wüst had a 1.30 second lead over her Czech rival and coming from the outer lane she was able to cross in front of her pair-mate at the final crossover. With a fast final lap Sábliková managed to reduce the gap to 0.61 seconds. Wüst lowered the track record (Jorien ter Mors 2013, 1:54.88) with 1:54.83 and Sábliková clocked 1:55.44. Wüst had to defend a 1.94 second gap in the 5000m. “I have to be realistic. I cannot win the championship”, Wüst said. “To be able to defend my lead I would have needed 11,9 seconds instead of 1,9. But I’ll fight my heart out anyway.”
Before Wüst and Sábliková faced each other in the final pair of the 1500m, Linda de Vries (NED) had clocked the fastest time: 1:57.04. She ended up third in the 1500m to pass Japanese pair-mate Miho Takagi (1:58.53, 10th) for fifth rank overall. Misaki Oshigiri (JPN) held on to her fourth place in the ranking with 1:57.55 and sixth place in the 1500m. Her pair-mate Antoinette de Jong (NED) finished fourth in the 1500m with 1:57.17, to retain third place in the ranking. Former champion Claudia Pechstein, who had her record 20th start at a world championships, did not make it to the last distance in her home town.
Sábliková leaves no room for doubt
Linda de Vries (NED) challenged Antoinette de Jong for the overall bronze when she skated 7:06.79 in the 5000m. The Dutchwoman left the three Japanese ladies (Oshigiri, Takagi and Kikuchi) and her Russian pair-mate Natalya Voronina behind in the overall ranking.
De Jong did not give in however. In the penultimate pair versus Oshigiri, who was ranked fourth before the start of the final distance, De Jong clocked 7:04.04 to secure her podium spot. Oshigiri set 7:13.01 and dropped to sixth place behind De Vries.
In the final pair Wüst desperately tried to defend her 1.94 second gap over Sábliková and she managed to stay close until the 2200m split. Both skaters were faster than the track record from the start. However, the Czech lady was able to pull through in sub-33 second laps with one exception for the entire race, while Wüst had to settle for sub-34 laps and even finished with three sub-35 laps. With 6:52.57 Sábliková crushed her own track record by almost seven seconds to win the distance and the Championship. Wüst came second in 7:01.41 and was happy to run away with silver.
Statistics: This weekend four track records fell. One of them in the men’s 10,000, three in the three longest distances for the ladies. There were three personal bests in the men’s 500m.