Ted-Jan Bloemen already had an Olympic title and two world records under his belt, but going into the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Salt Lake City he had never won a world title. The Dutch-born Canadian put that right in the men's 5000m. With Graeme Fish coming third and Jordan Belchos fifth, Canada could boast three skaters in the top-five. Eight-time 5000m champion Sven Kramer (NED) took silver. Canada looked to have won the Men's Team Sprint too, but were disqualified for an illegal changeup and the Netherlands ran away with the gold medal.
Men's 5000m champion Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) has finally added a world title to his impressive collection 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Men’s 5000m: Bloemen good on fast rinks
Sven Kramer (NED) was the first of the favorites to enter the rink, in the third pair of the 5000m. The Dutchman roared out at world-record pace but could not maintain that speed and after eight 28-second laps he posted four 29-second laps to finish three seconds outside Bloemen's world record in 6:04.91.
Jorrit Bergsma (NED) and Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR) were the last two men to skate before the ice-cleaning break, but the Dutchman and the reigning champion were not able to finish anywhere near Kramer, clocking 6:13.42 and 6:11.80 to finish eighth and fourth repsectively.
Jordan Belchos had set a time of 6:12.07 before the break and the Canadian was in second place before the big guns entered the rink.
His team-mate Ted-Jan Bloemen skated in the second-last pair and managed nine 28-second laps before going into 29-seconds in the final three circuits to earn a 0.54 second margin over Kramer at the finish line.
The Dutchman managed to keep up with Bloemen's split times until halfway, but gave way after six 28-second laps to continue with five 29-second laps and finish with a 31.46 for 6:08.59.
Fish had followed Roest at a small distance and smelled blood when his pairmate struggled towards the end. Consistently keeping his lap times under 29 seconds, the Canadian managed to reel in Roest in the final lap to take bronze in 6:06.32.
Roest finished fourth fastest, but was disqualified soon afterwards for not wearing the white armband to indicate his inner-lane start.
"Fourth place or a disqualification, that doesn't make any difference,” the disappointed Dutchman said. “I came here to win and I failed. The legs are not what they're supposed to be."
Men's 5000m medalists (from left): Kramer (NED, silver), Bloemen (CAN, gold), Fish (CAN, bronze) 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Kramer had mixed feelings about his silver medal, which arrived after an injury-hampered first half of the season.
"On the one hand I'm gutted, because I play this game to win,” he said. “But on the other I'm proud to have been able to pull this off, regarding the first half of the season."
Bloemen's first half of the season had also not looked too promising. The Olympic champion struggled with his motivation after having taken a sabbatical from the sport.
"He [Bloemen] has not had good preparation and I even told him that he might be better off quitting,” his coach Bart Shouten (NED) said. “But he really wanted to skate here because Salt Lake City is his favorite track. I'm really surprised that he managed to win."
The Utah OIympic Oval is often described as the ‘fastest ice on the planet’ and Bloemen said: "I'm in my comfort zone at fast tracks. It's called speed skating and when the tracks are fast, I'm good.”
Dai Dai Ntab leads the Netherlands in the Men's Team Sprint 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Men’s Team Sprint: Dutch get gold after Canadian disqualification
The Netherlands’s men ended up emulating their Ladies trio by winning the Team Sprint event. Canada skated the fastest time in 1:17.63, but Gilmore Junio, Laurent Dubreuil and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu were disqualified for an illegal changeup.
"It feels a bit like a stolen victory," Krol said. "We have congratulated them [Canada] for a great skate. They were the best today, but they didn't do it according to the rules, so the disqualification is just.
“But we did not celebrate too much, that would not have been very respectful."
Men's Team Sprint medalists (from left): China (silver), Netherlands (gold), Norway (bronze) 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
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