All was well that ended well for Kjeld Nuis (NED) on the final day of the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Salt Lake City. After losing his world record en route to coming second in the 1000m on Saturday, the Olympic champion edged out his team-mate Thomas Krol to take the 1500m on Sunday. Joey Mantia (USA) surprised himself with a big personal best and a bronze on home ice. Dutch star Jorrit Bergsma made amends for a mediocre display in the 5000m and the 10000m by winning the Mass Start in style.
Kjeld Nuis salutes the crowd after his emotional success in the Men's 1500m 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Men’s 1500m: Everything comes good for Nuis
Kjeld Nuis burst into tears after coming off the podium clutching the gold medal for his career second world title in the 1500m.
"It's been such a tough run-up [to this tournament]," the Dutch skater said.
The Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion missed his country’s world championships trials due to illness but was handed a wild card at the expense of Koen Verweij (NED), who subsequently went to court to fight the decision.
The decision was upheld, but Nuis was struggling to get back in shape after his illness.
"I missed the two most beautiful tournaments in Thialf [venue for the Dutch national championships and the European Championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands],” he said.
"Then I was beaten by half-a-second last week [by Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) in the Calgary World Cup 1000m] and yesterday even by more than a second. It was quite hard to keep confidence."
The 1.04 second difference between Kulizhnikov and Nuis in Saturday’s long sprint was the biggest gap between the winner and runner-up in the history of the 1000m at the worlds, but Kulizhnikov did not skate in the 1500m.
Nuis stopped the clock at 1:41.66 to beat his team-mate and the defending champion Thomas Krol by a 0.07 margin and recover the title he had won in 2017.
"The past two months my life as a top athlete has not been fun at all, so when I crossed that line and saw that number 1 on the scoreboard, I was stoked,” Nuis said.
"I'm so proud of myself and of everyone in the team who have always kept faith in me."
Men's 1500m medalists (from left): Krol (NED, silver), Nuis (NED, gold), Mantia (USA, bronze) 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Krol, who lost bronze due to a disqualification in the 1000m on Saturday, was disappointed to lose his 1500m title.
"It's second best, due to my own mistakes,” he said. “I'm better at low-altitude tracks, the high-speed corners just did not work for me this year.
"I've been the best 1500m skater so far this year, so it's ‘mission: not accomplished’ and that's very disappointing."
To the delight of the home crowd at the Utah Olympic Oval, Joey Mantia (USA) finished third in 1:42.16, shaving off 0.29 seconds from his personal best.
“I'm ecstatic about the PB,” Mantia said. “I haven’t PBd in this race for four or five years now, so I started to think that I'm so old that I can't time trial any more."
Look who's back: Jorrit Bergsma celebrates winning the Men's Mass Start 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Men’s Mass Start: Bergsma makes amends
It is fair to say that up until Sunday afternoon Jorrit Bergsma (NED) had not really been enjoying his time at the 2020 World Single Distances Championships.
The 34-year-old lost his world title in the 10000m to Graeme Fish (CAN) on Friday, to follow a disappointing eighth place in the 5000m on Thursday.
But the Dutchman made amends with an impressive display in the mass start.
"That breakaway went and I knew I had to react. It took me a while but I caught up with four laps to go. That gave me time to catch some breath and go for it."
Bergsma finished it off heading into the final lap in front and did not give way. Canadian pair Jordan Belchos and Gélinas-Beaulieu finished second and third respectively.
The Men’s Mass Start brought the championships to a close, with Netherlands heading the medal table with four golds, followed by Canada and Russia on two each.
Men's Mass Start medalists (left to right): Belchos (CAN, silver), Bergsma (NED, gold), Gélina-Beaulieu (CAN, bronze) 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
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