The Utah Olympic Oval confirmed its name as the fastest ice rink on the planet with six new world records broken during the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final 2019. In 2020 the iconic venue will host the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships and currently holds four Ladies' and six current Men's world records.
ISU World Cup Speed Skating at the Utah Olympic Oval, Salt Lake City (USA) 2015©International Skating Union (ISU)
Roller coaster season
After having won Olympic Gold in the 1000m and the 1500m at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, Kjeld Nuis had trouble focusing on ice skating this season. He seemed to be searching for the right feeling on the ice. At the ISU European Sprint Speed Skating Championships in Collalbo (Italy) he was disqualified for crossing a line in the inner corner and at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Inzell he had to settle for one individual bronze medal in the 1000m.
At the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen Nuis took bronze in the overall qualification and he travelled to Salt Lake City with the sole purpose of writing down his name in the record books to make up for a mediocre season. He had two chances and took both opportunities to achieved his goal and broke the 1000m and 1500m world records and he thinks he can go faster next year.
World record 1100m
In the 1000m Nuis hammered out 1:06.18 to beat the ten-year-old 1:06.42 world record by Shani Davis (USA). His race was far from perfect however. The Olympic 1000m Champion swerved out of the inner corner while heading into the second lap of his race.
"My opener was good, but then I skated a very bad second lap," he said.
"I was chasing him (pair mate Håvard Lorentzen (NOR)) on the backstretch and I did not focus on the corner. At this speed that corner suddenly comes up and I did not manage to bend it smoothly.
"When I take that corner well, I might have clocked a 24.1 lap instead of the 24.3 lap I did. I think that a sub 1:06 time is possible. This is a world record over 1100 meters", Nuis concluded with a joke.
Better but still not a perfect 1500m
Nuis' 1500m was better, but still not perfect. The Dutchman faced compatriot and teammate Thomas Krol and the two started at a ferocious pace.
Thomas Krol (NED) at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
"We clocked 1:05.8 after 1000m," Nuis commented. "Faster than yesterday's world record time in the 1000m. This was awesome. I've never skated this fast. This was so much better than yesterday. I was able to accelerate in every corner."
But the fast beginning came at a price. Both Krol and Nuis struggled in the final corner.
"After such a fast 1000m you still have to skate another 500m and I was completely exhausted. In that final corner I barely managed to stay on my feet and I needed a hand on the ice to avoid a crash. If that would not have happened, this could have been a 1:39 something…"
Nuis eventually finished in 1:40.17, edging out Krol by 0.36 seconds. Both men were faster than Denis Yuskov's (RUS) 2017 world record.
Denis Yuskov (RUS) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (USA) 2017©International Skating Union (ISU)
Russian rocket beats the 500m record
Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) broke his own 500m world record at the World Cup Final. The Russian rocket clocked 33.61 with a 9.67 opener and an unmatched 23.9 full lap with a spotless final inner corner. He still reigns as the king of the shortest distance, however he could be challenged by Tatsuya Shinhama (JPN) next year. The Japanese prodigy also broke Kulizhnikov's previous world record, finishing in 33.83 seconds.
Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating USA 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Ladies 1000m world record is broken three times in a row
Miho Takagi (JPN) and Nao Kodaira (JPN) set the pace in the ladies' 1000m, both being faster than Kodaira's 2017 world record of 1:12.09. Takagi had the final inner corner and chased Kodaira down to stop the clock at 1:11.71. Kodaira finished in 1:11.77.
Brittany Bowe (USA) skated straight after the two Japanese ladies had stunned the crowd with their blistering pace.
"Going after Miho and Nao, both going 1:11.7, that's a tough act to follow," Bowe said. "I knew I had to have a close to perfect race. If I had the opener that I'm capable of, and if I could do a 6.3 lap, I had a chance to beat it. I looked up on the scoreboard in my first lap and it was 6.3, and I just wielded my way to the finish line."
Bowe eventually finished in 1.11,61 to win the distance and her name went up on the Salt Lake City world record board.
In Sunday's 1500m Bowe also broke the world record, finishing in 1:50.32, but Takagi was in a league of her own.
Bowe said: "It was a great race, and I was obviously happy to win the pair, but I did not think that time would stand. I knew 1:49 was going to win it today."
Takagi took on Ireen Wüst (NED) in the final pairing and she proved to be the best in combining speed and stamina in the middle distance. Leaving the reigning World Champion behind, Takagi stopped the clock after 1 minute and 49.83 seconds and with her name engraved on the wall of word record holders.
Before her race Takagi did not know what time she had to skate to win. "I only knew that Bowe skated a world record, but I don't want to know the time because I always want to skate my own race."
Like Bowe, Takagi had already expected a 1:49 winning time beforehand saying: "I discussed it with my coach yesterday and he said, anything is possible."
One record left for Calgary
One week before the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final in Salt Lake City, Martina Sáblíková (CZE) had become ISU World Allround Speed Skating Champion breaking both the 3000m and the 5000m world records in Calgary. The Czech veteran managed to break the 3000m mark once more at the Utah Olympic Oval, leaving her 5000m record as the only Ladies’ world record left in Calgary.
Martina Sáblíková (CZE) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating USA 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
In Salt Lake City Sáblíková set 3:52.02, despite not feeling too well beforehand. "I was very tired," she said. "But in the locker room my teammates said: it's the last seven-and-a-half laps of the season. That's how I found the motivation to try and give it my all once more. I started faster than I ever skated before and I did not think I could keep it up. The final two laps were very hard, but I said to myself: it's the last two laps of the season. That's how I managed to pull it off."
Will anyone be able to break these freshly engraved World Records in the new season? Only time can tell. Make sure to stay tuned to the ISU to find out.