Heerenveen, Netherlands

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GettyImages 1301937349 Brittany Bowe

Brittany Bowe (USA) at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

The USA’s Brittany Bowe collected the third 1000m world title of her career, beating defending champion Jutta Leerdam (NED) in a head-to-head battle in Heerenveen on Saturday. Marijke Groenewoud (NED) surprised the pack – and herself – when she crossed the line first to become the youngest-ever Ladies’ Mass Start champion at the ISU World Single Distance Championships.

‘Human’ Bowe feels the pressure and wins gold

Brittany Bowe was on a mission after last year’s disappointing World Championships on home ice in Salt Lake City. Having won the two 1000m World Cup races in January, the US athlete felt the burden of being favorite again.

“Pressure is definitely a privilege because not many people get to feel it,” the 32-year-old said. “It’s whether or not you can embrace it. It doesn’t always go the way you want it to go. Sometimes you’re able to deal with it and sometimes you’re not. We’re not machines, we’re only humans.”

GettyImages 1301964891 L R Jutta Leerdam NED Brittany Bowe USA and Elizaveta Golubeva RSU

(L-R) Jutta Leerdam (NED), Brittany Bowe (USA) and Elizaveta Golubeva (RSU) at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

On Saturday she managed to cope with it perfectly. She skated in the penultimate pairing versus Jutta Leerdam and executed her game plan meticulously. She continued: “The draw was good. You always want to be paired with the best competitor and starting from the inner lane is always nice in the 1000m because you can chase in that last inner [corner].

“The race went exactly how I replayed it time and time again in my head, and I was really happy to cross the line and see that green number next to my name.”

That green number indicated the winning time of one minute, 14.12 seconds. Leerdam took silver in 1:14.67. Both skaters were slower than they had been at the World Cups. Weather conditions are less favorable with more resistance due to high air pressure this weekend.

Leerdam explained: “You skate against a wall and you have to work hard to cut through.

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Jutta Leerdam (NED) at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

“Of course, I wanted to win gold but I got silver and I have to be satisfied. I’m on the podium with 1500m and 3000m skaters, which tells a lot about the conditions today.”

Leerdam, a pure sprinter, referred to Bowe and bronze medalist Elizaveta Golubeva (RSU) as specialists in longer distances. Golubeva proved that by not only skating the 1000m on Saturday, but the Mass Start too.

“It was a very hard day for me,” Golubeva said, “having to start in the 1000m after the semis in the Mass Start. But I've got a medal with a personal best and surprised myself.”

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Elizaveta Golubeva (RSU) at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

Confused Groenewoud forgets to cheer for maiden title

Golubeva finished 15th in the Mass Start, which was dominated by the Dutch, who ended up with a confused gold medalist.

Marijke Groenewoud (NED) crossed the finish line first, having planned to lead out the final sprint for Irene Schouten (NED), who ended the race in third place.

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Marijke Groenewoud (NED) at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

Groenewoud said: “In the final 100m I did not see Irene and I suddenly saw [Canada’s Ivanie] Blondin, and she wasn’t supposed to win. I knew I had to skate until the end because when I did that at the World Cup it got me a bronze medal.”

With the Dutch tactics in disarray, Groenewoud did not seem to realize that she had actually won the world title.

“It was too confusing to cheer,” she smiled, “But on the podium I put my arms up in the air.”

In the Dutch game plan Groenewoud would have led out for Schouten, who is considered to be the fastest when it comes down to a bunch sprint, but things went wrong in the penultimate lap of the race.

GettyImages 1301937208 Ivanie Blondin

Ivanie Blondin (CAN) at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

“There was a little miscommunication. Jillert [coach Jillert Anema, NED], would whistle if I were to make pace at 700m from the line and he would shout if I had to make pace at 500m. He did the latter, but Irene had not heard that and she told me to go earlier, so I did sort of something in between. For me it played out perfectly, but less so for Irene. She was caught up in the hustle behind and did not manage to get out.”

When Schouten finally managed to break free, she was too late to push for gold and finished with the bronze medal behind Ivanie Blondin (CAN), who complimented 22-year-old Groenewoud with her golden World Championship debut: “Marijke deserved that win, for sure. She had way more speed than I did. I tried to set up on the outside to try to pass her on the inside, and there was none of that.

“In a way, I’m kind of happy for her because this is her first World Championships and becoming World Champion, that’s great. She’s really cute and really nice and it’s easy to support someone that’s friendly and nice like that.”

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Where to Watch

Viewers will be able to watch the ISU Speed Skating competitions that will take place within the hub either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel.

All the information is available in the Where to Watch which will be updated after each competition. The individual announcements and entry lists will be published under the respective events as soon as they are available. For further information regarding the ISU Speed Skating Hub please visit: https://www.isu.org/heerenveen2021.

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