Sáblíková wins 11th long distance World Cup

- Stavanger, Norway

Martina Sáblíková (CZE) took gold in the 3000m to win her 11th consecutive long distance World Cup at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup Final Stavanger on Saturday. Nao Kodaira (JPN) won the 500m, securing the 500m World Cup with one race to go, and Heather Bergsma (USA) grabbed gold and the World Cup in the 1000m.

In the Men’s tournament Kjeld Nuis concluded a near perfect season with a gold medal to take the 1000m World Cup. Dai Dai Ntab won Saturday’s 500m, with countrymen Ronald Mulder, Kai Verbij and Jan Smeekens coming second, third and fourth. Jorrit Bergsma (NED) won the Men’s long distance World Cup.

Wcupf17 Heather Bergsma 652018870Sáblíková strong as ever in long distances
Sáblíková dominated the long distances as usual this season. She won four of five 3000m races and the only 5000m race in Heerenveen. At the World Cup final, she easily beat Russia’s Anna Yurakova finishing in 4:04.21. Yurakova clocked 4:06.80 to end up in fourth place, enough to stay ahead of Antoinette de Jong (NED) in second place of the long distance World Cup ranking. De Jong came second in Stavanger with 4:05.35, to finish third in the World Cup. Melissa Wijfje grabbed Saturday’s 3000m bronze in 4:05.59 to end up fourth in the ranking.

Nao Kodaira reigned the 500m with an iron fist this season. The 31-year-old World Champion won all seven 500m World Cup races she skated and sealed her crown in 37.14, with one race to go on Sunday. European Sprint Champion Karolina Erbanova came second in 37.87 on Saturday and Heather Bergsma (USA) took bronze in 38.13.

Bergsma ruled the 1000m as merciless as Kodaira the 500m this season. With 1:14.85, the American took her sixth World Cup win in six races this season to conquer the 1000m World Cup. Nao Kodaira took the 1000m silver in 1:14.90 and the bronze went to Erbanova with 1:15.22. Miho Takagi, who came fourth in 1:15.31, took the overall silver and Marrit Leenstra (NED) finished in a disappointing 1:16.11 (6) to drop to third in the final ranking.

Wcupf17 Kjeld Nuis 652019456Men’s 500m gearing up to Sunday climax
The Men’s 500m will see its climax on Sunday. Top ranked Ruslan Murashov (RUS) was not able to secure the World Cup win on Saturday, finishing fifth behind four Dutchmen. Dai Dai Ntab grabbed his second career World Cup win in 34.93, with Ronald Mulder (34.99) taking silver. Kai Verbij and Jan Smeekens both finished in 35.01 to end up in third and fourth place. Verbij was 0.006 ahead of Smeekens to take the bronze. In the World Cup Ntab, Mulder, and theoretically even Verbij, can still push Murashov off the top spot on Sunday. Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) is ranked third at the moment, but he is absent in Stavanger.

Kjeld Nuis was the only man to beat the 1:09 barrier in the 1000m with 1:08.76 on Saturday. The World Champion thus took the World Cup with Canada’s Vincent De Haitre and countryman Verbij ending up second and third in the final ranking. De Haitre also took Saturday’s silver in 1:09.28 and German Nico Ihle won the bronze medal in 1:09.42.

The Men’s long distance World Cup was going to be decided in a last race showdown between Jorrit Bergsma (NED) and Peter Michael (NZL), but Michael’s ambitions were bigger than his legs could carry. The New-Zealander had to beat Bergsma to win the World Cup, and he tried to attack his opponent in the early stages of the race. Bergsma was unimpressed and steadily skated away from Michael to win in Saturday’s final in 6:17.74, and seal the World Cup. Michael only came tenth in 6:37.62 and dropped to third place in the final ranking. Ted-Jan Bloemen took silver in 6:18.46 and also ended up second in the final classification. Dutch Erik jan Kooiman took Saturday’s bronze in 6:19.07 to end up fourth in the final ranking.

Team Pursuit titles for Japan and the Netherlands
The Japanese ladies managed to beat the Netherlands for the overall victory in the Team Pursuit. Both countries had won two Team Pursuit races prior to the final and with Japan’s win in Stavanger they ended up with the same amount of points. Japan took home the World Cup because they had three gold medals versus the Dutch two. Russia took the bronze in Stavanger and finished third in the ranking as well.

In the Men’s Team Pursuit the Netherlands and Norway fought a tough battle, with the Dutchmen coming out on top. The Dutch seemed to take a comfortable lead in the second half of the race, but Norway crossed the final split before the finish with a 0.08 advantage. The Netherlands bounced back in the final lap however. With 3:43.02 they were 0.33 faster than the home team in Stavanger. Japan took the bronze in 3:44.09. The final World Cup ranking was similar with the Netherlands first, Norway second and Japan third.

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