- Inzell, Germany
The Essent ISU World Cup in Inzell continued today with good results for the USA: another victory for Heather Richardson and Shani Davis securing the World Cup in the 1000m, with Brian Hansen climbing up to third place. Ireen Wüst won the 3000m, as she did in Sochi, while Ronald Mulder took revenge on his brother Michel.
After winning her first World Cup race in the 500m yesterday, Heather Richardson (USA) was at it again but with a larger margin of victory over her pair mate Olga Fatkulina (RUS). Richardson won in 37.70 and Fatkulina finished in 37.84, which was enough to stay ahead of Jenny Wolf (GER), who reached the podium once again in 37.89 and has one weekend in her career left to chase her 50th World Cup victory. Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) still leads overall with 700 points, but apparently she is not coming to Heerenveen for the World Cup and so Richardson has a good chance to get it, being only 10 points behind now on 690. Fatkulina also has chances, with 660 points, while Wolf is next on 593.
Ronald Mulder (NED) defeated his twin brother, the Olympic champion Michel Mulder, in a direct confrontation and took the second Essent ISU World Cup victory of his career, after Calgary at the start of the season. He finished in 34.96sec. In second place was Gilmore Junio (CAN), who finished in 35.02, and third was Nico Ihle (GER) who managed 35.10, leaving the best two skaters in Sochi just off the podium: Jan Smeekens (NED) was fourth in 35.16 and Michel Mulder fifth in 35.17. World Cup leader Tae-Bum Mo (KOR) was absent, along with Keiichiro Nagashima and Joji Kato (JPN). Mo still leads with 527 points, ahead of the Mulder twins, Michel on 508 and Ronald on 476. After that come Nagashima (414) and Kato (406).
In the 3000m, Olympic champion Ireen Wüst (NED) had to set a time with two pairs skating after her. Third-ranked Antoinette de Jong (NED), who is in the race for the junior world title in Bjugn this weekend, was absent. Prior to Wüst, the fastest two times were 4:04.44 by Yvonne Nauta (NED) and 4:04.87 by Olympic bronze medallist Olga Graf (RUS). Wüst went out very fast with a 29.8sec first lap, and her next three laps were also faster than anyone else’s. Before the end of the race she had to let go of the track record schedule she was on, but still finished in 4:01.52, with a 33.6 final lap. The best three times were not in danger from the next pair, but Martina Sábliková (CZE) and Claudia Pechstein (GER) skated in the last pair. After three and a half laps Sábliková was already five seconds down on Wüst, and the next lap the gap increased a little more. But then Sábliková managed to find a more even rhythm recorded the fastest last three laps of anyone, but she could not quite close up that five-second gap and had to settle for second with 4:04.00. Pechstein finished in seventh, Bachleda-Curus (POL), who was fourth in the ranking, finished in eighth and so was unable to any higher in the rankings. Sábliková leads the World Cup rankings with 460 points, Pechstein is on 380 and Wüst 240. With 150 points for the winner next week, it means only Pechstein can keep Sábliková from the Cup, but it is not likely.
In the 1000m Olympic champion Stefan Groothuis (NED) skated in pair four, as the start of the season had not been that kind to him. He skated a strong race, opening in 16.81, followed by a first lap of 25.2 and a last lap of 26.7, thus finishing in 1:08.80. The first skater to come near him was Koen Verweij (NED) in pair seven, who lost 0.1sec in the opening, had a 25.4 first lap and a 26.5 finish, reaching 1:08.98. In the next pair Brian Hansen (USA) bettered that in a similar race, with laps of 25.3 and 26.6 reaching 1:08.90. In the final pair Olympic bronze medalist Michel Mulder and Shani Davis (USA) were paired together. Mulder was tired and empty and finished in 10th place, but Davis showed he was still “the king of the 1000m”, as he had referred to himself in the past tense in Sochi. The World Cup leader opened in 16.90, had a 25.3 first lap, but his strong final lap of 26.4 gave him victory in 1:08.70.
Groothuis said: “I thought I had it, especially since Shani skated a slower first lap, but in the last lap he took it back. You always should count with Shani Davis. He is the best skater we have had these last years. I am happy to show another strong race.”
In the World Cup rankings Davis thus increased his lead to an unassailable 470 points. Mulder is still second, but quite a distance behind on 260 points, while Hansen moved past Nuis and Kuzin to into third with 210 points. However Nuis (200), Kuzin (197) and Morrison (194) are still well in the race for the final podium. But the World Cup belongs to Shani Davis, as the gap of 210 points cannot be bridged with a maximum of 150 points to be earned by next week’s winner.
Mass Start men
Dutchman Arjan Stroetinga won the Mass Start race for men over 20 laps. There were three intermediate sprints earning five, three, two and one point. Brian Hansen took the first sprint after five laps, taking the five points in front of Andrea Giovannini (ITA) and Bob de Vries (NED). After eight laps Fredrik van der Horst (NOR) got away from the pack and took the second intermediate sprint, followed by De Vries and Sebastian Druszkiewicz (POL). Then two Dutchmen and Hansen tried to escape, with Bart Swings (BEL) hauling them back, and a new leading group had De Vries controlling Maarten Swings (BEL) and home skater Felix Rheijnen. De Vries won the third sprint and had now 10 extra points. Giovannini tried to get to the three leaders but couldn’t make it. De Vries seemed tired and the pack caught up with the three leaders with one lap to go. Paced by Christijn Groeneveld, Arjen Stroetinga won the sprint ahead of Bart Swings. De Vries finished third thanks to his 10 extra points, as Groeneveld, Patrick Meek (USA) and Felix Maly (GER) crossed the finish line before him.
Tomorrow’s programme has the second 500m and the 1500m for Men, and the 1000m and Mass Start for Ladies.