Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) left the rest of the 1000m field shattered at the ISU World Single Distances Championships on Saturday. The fastest man ever in the 500m broke the 1:06 barrier in the double sprint distance to add another world record to his tally. The man whose mark he beat, Kjeld Nuis (NED), conceded more than a second to take silver. Canada’s Laurent Dubreuil earned bronze after Thomas Krol (NED) was disqualified. To conclude Saturday's action, the Netherlands won their seventh consecutive Men's Team Pursuit title in a world-record time, with Japan coming second to grab their first ever world championships medal in this event.
Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) blasted to his second world sprint gold on Saturday 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Men’s 1000m: Calm Kulizhnikov can’t be topped
Last week Pavel Kulizhnikov predicted a sub-1:06 time in the 1000m, but the combination of pure power and cool composure with which the Russian rocket pulled it off stunned the crowd in Salt Lake City anyway.
With the almost-inconceivable sequence of a 16.17 opener followed by 24.19 and 25.33 laps, the Russian stopped the clock at a rub-your-eyes 1:05.69.
Kulizhnikov was in the fourth pair on the ice, skating before the other favorites entered the rink, and none of the others was able to even come close.
"Maybe it [the time gap] was because I skated before the others. It could be a mental thing," Kulizhnikov said.
Nuis, who surrendered the world record he set on this ice little more than 12 months ago, did not skate a perfect race.
"I was too eager at the start,” he said. “I missed every stroke in the opener, it's a real shame. I only started skating after 200m. The last two laps were good, but when you start those laps 1.5 km/h slower, there's just no chance.
"But [even if the opener had been better] I would have skated 1:06.2 or something. It would not have made any difference. Pavel [Kulizhnikov] is in a league of his own.”
Krol finished third fastest, but was disqualified after swerving out of the inner corner and hindering his pair-mate Viktor Mushtakov (RUS).
"I have to respect the result, but I skated that time. I'm gutted," Krol said.
Men's 1000m medalists (from left): Nuis (NED, silver), Kulizhnikov (RUS, gold), Dubreuil (CAN, bronze) 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
As a result of Krol’s calamity, Dubreuil stepped up to the podium. The Canadian admitted he sympathized with his Dutch rival, having been disqualified himself after having set the fastest time with Gilmore Junio and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu in the Team Sprint on Thursday.
"I feel for Thomas,” Dubreuil said. “I was there two days ago and it was not a fun day after that. Thomas is an amazing skater and I hope he bounces back and wins tomorrow in the 1500m.
"Nonetheless, I'm happy about my race… more than half-a-second off my personal best. I skated maybe the best race of my life and I got lucky as well.
"If you told me before the race I could get a 1:06.7 I would have said ‘yes, where do I sign?’. But after seeing my start 16.2, my first lap 24.2, I knew I had a shot and with a bit of draft off Kai [pair mate Kai Verbij, NED], I knew it was going to be my best last lap as well."
Netherlands clocked a world record on their way to a seventh successive world Men's Team Pursuit title 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Men’s Team Pursuit: Dutch dominate despite Roest withdrawal
With substitute Marcel Bosker stepping in for Patrick Roest, the Dutch trio that also included Sven Kramer and Douwe de Vries finished the Men's Team Pursuit with a world record 3:34.68 and a seventh successive world title.
With their first-ever medal in the Team Pursuit the Japanese men follow in the footsteps of their female compatriots, who have dominated this event over recent years and retained their title in world-record time on Friday.
Men's Team Pursuit medalists (from left): Japan (silver), Netherlands (gold), Russia (bronze) 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
"This was a race by the book," De Vries said, despite the Dutch skating in a different line-up to the one they had planned.
National coach Jan Coopmans (NED) had decided to field reserve Bosker on Saturday morning, following Roest's disappointing displays in the 5000m and the 10000m.
"We discussed it last night, and this morning I looked Patrick in the eye and I thought we just shouldn't do this to him, nor should we do it to the team."
It is a sign of the strength in depth within the Dutch team that the loss of such a high-profile figure did not derail their plans.
"It's a pity for Patrick," Bosker said. "But I'm grateful for the chance to skate a world record here."
Kramer said: "It's the national coach who takes that decision, but we all agreed. We all like each other just the same and I'm glad it's the coach who has the final word, so we skaters can look each other straight in the eye.
"We have four good skaters in the team. Unfortunately only three can skate, but all four have the ability to skate a world record."
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