Dutch Kjeld Nuis and American Heather Bergsma convincingly took hold of the Men’s and Ladies’ Grand World Cup on the last day of the 2016/2017 World Cup season. Both Nuis and Bergsma won the final 1500m in Stavanger on Sunday.
Bergsma denies Leenstra 1500m World Cup
Nao Kodaira was faster than lightning in the 500m this season. After already having secured the 500m World Cup on Saturday, the Japanese World Champion again left the rest of the field far behind in her final World Cup race of the season on Sunday. With 37.24 she was almost half a second faster than Karolina Erbanova (CZE), who came second in 37.72. Erina Kamiya (JPN) took the bronze and climbed to third place in the World Cup Classification. Japan swept the World Cup podium with the unbeaten Kodaira on top and Maki Tsuji, who came seventh in 38.25 on Sunday, in second place.
Marrit Leenstra led the 1500m World Cup ranking without having won a single race throughout the season before Sunday’s final race, but the consistent Dutchwoman only had a 20 point margin. Bergsma knew that a gold medal on Sunday would be enough to seal the final victory. The American World Champion was the only one to open under 25 seconds at the 300m split and she left Leenstra 1.30 seconds adrift at the 1100m split. Bergsma could not keep up her pace in the final lap, but Leenstra was not able to take advantage. Bergsma’s 1:54.92 was enough for the gold and her Dutch opponent ended up in fourth place with 1:56.63. Leenstra had to settle for second place in the 1500m World Cup classification. Miho Takagi (JPN) took the World Cup bronze with a second place finish in 1:55.50 on Sunday. Martina Sáblíková (CZE) finished third in 1:56.62 in the final 1500m race of the season.
In the Mass Start event Miho and Nana Takagi tried to escape from the pack, but Dutch Annouk van der Weijden and German Bente Kraus brought the peloton back to the Japanese sisters. Francesca Lollobrigida tried to pull away with a long sprint heading into the final lap, but Bo-Reum Kim and Irene Schouten hung in, to outsprint the Italian lady on the final straight. The Dutchwoman took gold, the Korean silver and Lollobrigida took home the bronze. Kim secured the World Cup, ahead of Lollobrigida and Ivanie Blondin (CAN), who finished eighth on Sunday.
Ntab wins 500m World Cup
Dai Dai Ntab carried Saturday’s great form into Sunday’s 500m race, and again set the fastest time of the field. The Dutchman clocked 34.72 to beat Ruslan Murashov in the final pair. The Russian was in the driver’s seat to win the World Cup, but blew his chances with an eighth place in 34.77. Ntab pushed Murashov from the top rank, to win the 500m World Cup. Murashov had to settle for silver and Ronald Mulder took the bronze, after having finished second in 34.99 on Sunday. Just like Saturday the top four in the Men’s 500m was Dutch, but this time Jan Smeekens took the bronze in 34.81 and Verbij came fourth in 34.83, behind Ntab and Mulder.
After having won the 1000m World Cup on Saturday, Nuis took on Denis Yuskov in a fight for the 1500m World Cup on Sunday. The Dutchman appeared to be unstoppable. Coming from the outer lane he crossed ahead of his Russian opponent in the final lap to hammer home in 1:45.00. Yuskov clocked 1:46.63 to end up fourth and dropped to second place in the 1500m World Cup ranking. Patrick Roest (NED) grabbed Sunday’s silver in 1:46.28 to secure third place in the final ranking. Sverre Lunde Pedersen handed the Norwegian home crowd a bronze medal in 1:46.61.
Jorrit Bergsma tried to surprise the peloton with a fierce attack after a tough race. Heading into the final lap of the Mass Start event, the Dutchman got away but Belgian Bart Swings bridged the gap with Seung-Hoon Lee in his back. The Korean World Cup leader took maximum advantage and outsprinted both Bergsma and Swings on the final straight. Bergsma managed to stay ahead of Swings to take silver and the Belgian took bronze. Italy’s Andrea Giovannini was the best of the rest in fourth place and thus secured his silver medal in the final ranking, behind Lee, but ahead of Bergsma, who climbed to third place.
Dutch wins in Team Sprint
The Dutch ladies surprised Japan in the Team Sprint event. Floor van den Brandt, Anice Das and Marrit Leenstra clocked 1:27.44 in the first pair versus Norway. Japan, who won the first two World Cup legs, was faster in the first two laps, but Erina Kamiya, Maki Tsuji and Arisa Go eventually finished second in 1:27.91. The Russian ladies crashed out of the race and Norway finished third in 1:28.16. Japan won the World Cup, ahead of the Netherlands and Russia.
The Dutch men confirmed their individual 500m form in the Team Sprint. Jan Smeekens, Ronald Mulder and Kai Verbij skated 1:20.55 to beat Canada’s Olivier Jean, Laurent Dubreuil, Vincent De Haitre (1:20.91) and Germany’s Denny Ihle, Nico Ihle, Joel Dufter (1:21.06) for silver and bronze. Canada won the World Cup, with Germany cominsecond and the Netherlands third.