Heerenveen / Netherlands

Jorrit Bergsma won the 10,000m, only to see his compatriot Bob de Vries skate a faster time in the B Division on Day 3 of the ISU Speed Skating World Cup in Heerenveen. Martina Sáblíková won the ladies’ 5000m, Kjeld Nuis the Men’s 1000m and Heather Bergsma the Ladies’ 1000m.

Gold Sáblíková, first podium for Wijfje

After winning the first three 3000m races this season, Martina Sáblíková (CZE) also took gold in the only Ladies’ 5000m this World Cup season. The Czech long distance specialist was the only one to break the seven minute barrier in Thialf on Sunday, when she clocked 6:57.64 in the final pair. German Claudia Pechstein took silver in 7:00.82 and Melissa Wijfje (NED) took her first career World Cup medal claiming the bronze in a personal best of 7:02.51.

Sáblíková only skated the 5000m in Heerenveen, because she did not want to overload her knee. “I don’t know what’s wrong with it. When I came to Astana I couldn’t skate the first three days”, she said. “I’ll have a little rest now first and we’ll see after that.” Although she is still undefeated in the 3000m and 5000m the win did not come easy. “When I saw the last two pairs, I knew I had to be prepared for the last two or three laps, because the ice is tough.”

Melissa Wijfje found out how tough the ice was in the fourth pair. The 21-year-old prodigy was on course for a sub-seven-minute time, but she couldn’t push though in the last two laps. After having set nine 33 second laps, she finished with 34.0 and 35.4. “I knew I was on a good time, but I did not really think about that. I just wanted to skate well technically, but those final to laps it was all about survival”, she said.

The 44-year-old Pechstein also set 34.0 in the penultimate lap, but she pulled out a 33.2 final lap to beat Wijfje in the fifth and penultimate pair. She congratulated Wijfje and told the journalists with a big smile: “I could be her mother.”

Sáblíková collected 400 points in the combined 3000/5000m World Cup to go on top. Russian Anna Yurakova, who finished fifth in Heerenveen, is second with 235 points and Pechstein third with 217 points.

WCSS-NED-Day3-BergsmaBowe-Gettyimages-629148330Bergsma edges out Leenstra, Bowe back on track

Heather Bergsma added 1000m gold to Saturday’s 1500m silver on Sunday. The American clocked 1:14.60 to edge out Dutch Marrit Leenstra for the win. Last year’s 1000m World Cup winner Brittany Bowe (USA) started this World Cup season, returning from a concussion, with a bronze medal.

“It’s been a tough time to say the least”, Bowe reflected on her absence during the first three World Cups. “It felt awesome to be back. I went out there just to execute a solid race, not to skate a world record time. It was a really, really good time and I’m pleased with this performance.” Bowe will return to the United States to recover and aims at the US National Championships in the first week of January now.

Having been absent in the first three World Cups Bowe started in the first pair and clocked 1:15.03. Marrit Leenstra was the first to beat Bowe’s time in the penultimate race, when she stopped the clock at 1:14.73. She was pleased too. “It went well straight from the start. My second turn in the outer lane was not that good, but finishing from the last inner turn to set my best ever time in Thialf was awesome.” Leenstra skated all four World Cup legs this season, whereas other skaters skipped one or more events. She felt a little tired. ”But I don’t regret it. I’m still improving and the World Cup is only fun if you skate everything. It’s about the overall classification in the end.”

In the 1000m World Cup ranking Leenstra is third with 266 points. Miho Takagi (JPN), who finished fourth in Heerenveen, is second with 290 points and Bergsma took over the top position with 300 points.

Second weekend win for Nuis

Kjeld Nuis rules the Men’s 1000m this World Cup season. The Dutchman took his third gold 1000m World Cup medal, after he had already won the 1500m in Heerenveen on Saturday. Shani Davis (USA) took silver and Jin-Su Kim won his first ever World Cup podium grabbing the bronze medal.

German Joel Dufter was the first to skate under 1:09, when he set 1:08.87 in the third pair. Kim beat him with 1:08.63 in the fifth pair and Davis crossed the line in 1:08.57 with three more pairs to come. A track record (1:08.16 by Pavel Kulizhnikov) seemed inevitable, but when Nuis took on Vincent De Haitre in the final pair, Davis and Kim were still on top of the list.

Nuis had set his sights on a sub 1:08 time, but the clock stopped at 1:08.21, enough for gold but 0.05 above the track record. “I did not really think about the track record, but I wanted to skate a 1:07, well, tough luck”, he said. “My first lap was good, but in the final lap I did not have the power to push through. I stayed behind the Canadian a little too long, but technically this was a very strong race. I did not expect to perform this well after last week’s training camp in Collalbo. It’s also super to win my first career double win in one World Cup weekend.”

Last week’s 1000m winner De Haitre finished in 1:08.93 to end up seventh in Heerenveen, enough to climb to second place in the World Cup ranking with 230 points. He passed Pavel Kulizhnikov, who skipped the Heerenveen 1000m race on a last minute notice. The Russian is third in the ranking with 220 points. Nuis sovereignly leads with 300 points.

WCSS-NED-Day3-Bergsma-Gettyimages-629148012Bergsma wins, but Bob de Vries faster in B Division

Dutchman Jorrit Bergsma won this season’s only 10,000m in 12:52.20, but his compatriot Bob de Vries set the fastest time of the day, when he clocked 12:47.53 in the B Division. Erik-Jan Kooiman (NED) took silver in the A Division with a personal best in 12:57.92, and Canadian World Record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen grabbed A Division bronze in 13:00.07. B Division skater Jouke Hoogeveen (NED) would also have been on podium in the A Division with 12:58.21.

Bob de Vries had skated a marathon race in Enschede (NED) on Saturday night and was called up as a substitute on Sunday morning to skate the B Division on Sunday night. “It was a bit awkward because I have a farm and I had to milk the cows today, but we managed to arrange it,” he said. Lack of pressure had been to his advantage. “I was relaxed. Nobody would have cared if I had skated 13:10. I knew what I was capable of. I train a lot with Jorrit [Bergsma] and I know that in training, I can keep up with him quite well. Of course the four-men start was to my advantage, because I had a target to chase.”

Before De Vries beat Bergsma’s time in the B Division, Bergsma said he was happy with his performance: “It’s good to win here. It’s good for my confidence because it’s been a while since I skated a good 10,000m”, he said. He did not bother about his arch rival Sven Kramer being absent. “I don’t look at it differently because he [Kramer] is not present. Kooiman does skate here and he is a tough contender too.” Bergsma would not have expected to see De Vries beating is time by five seconds within two hours, at the moment of speaking.

The B Division not only produced the fastest time of the day, it also produced a national record for Swedish Nils van der Poel, who beat the 2005 time by Johan Röjler (13:08.42), when he clocked 13:04.79. “I have not skated a 10,000m on proper ice since racing in the junior ranks, so I did not know what to expect,” Van der Poel explained his surprise record.

Jorrit Bergsma grabbed the lead in the 5000m/10,000m with 260 points. Peter Michael, who finished ninth in Heerenveen, is second with 230 points and Erik-Jan Kooiman third with 210 points.