Takagi surprise leader, Kramer unassailable

- Hamar, Norway

Miho Takagi (JPN) is the surprise leader in the Ladies’ classification after Day 1 of the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships in Hamar Norway. In the Men’s tournament Sven Kramer (NLD) laid a solid foundation for his ninth World Allround title, leading the classification ahead of countrymen Patrick Roest and Jan Blokhuijsen after the first two distances.

Super start Takagi
Takagi hammered out a personal best of 38.15 in the 500m to take an early lead in the Ladies’ tournament. The 22-year-old Japanese prodigy, who grabbed bronze in the 1500m and the Mass Start at this year’s World Single Distance Championships, beat Ireen Wüst in the final pair of the 500m. Wüst, who set the second time in 38.82, immediately knew that Takagi was going to be one of the main title contenders, next up to arch rival Martina Sáblíková (CZE).

Wüst and Takagi were the only Ladies’ to beat the 39 second barrier, with Norway’s Ida Njåtun finishing third in 39.35. The 26-year-old Norwegian dropped to sixth place in the classification however, after a disappointing thirteenth place in 4:09.99 in the 3000m.

Sáblíková lost a lot of ground in the 500m. The Czech title defender finished 13th with 40.11, but took revenge winning the 3000m in 4:02.21. Sáblíková finished the day as number four in the classification, 3.73 seconds behind Takagi in Sunday’s 1500m.

Takagi defended a 4:02 second margin towards Wüst in the 3000m, and managed to hold on to the top spot, finishing sixth in 4:06.52. Wüst set the second time (4:03.71) in the 3000m after a tough struggle in the final laps. She only made up 2.81 seconds and remained second, 0.61 behind Takagi in Sunday’s 1500m.

Wüst’s compatriot Antoinette de Jong is third after the first day. The 21-year-old bronze medal winner of the 2016 World Allround Championships and the 2017 European Allround Championships, clocked the seventh time in 39.56 in the 500m and came third with 4:03.77 in the 3000m. De Jong has to make up 2.86 seconds in Sunday’s 1500m to overhaul Takagi in the classification.

Kramer unassailable
Despite a false start in the 500m, Sven Kramer left no room for doubt on Day 1 in Hamar. The eight-time champion took the lead after a personal season’s best of 36.41 in the 500m and an unassailable 6:12.33 in the 5000m.

Shota Nakamura started the tournament with 36.00 to win the 500m, but the 23-year-old Japanese skater lost ground coming 15th in the 5000m (6:32.34), to conclude Day 1 in 8th place. Polish Konrad  Niedzwiedzki and Norway’s Sindre Henriksen came second and third in the 500m, but they too could not hold on to their top classification in the 5000m. Niedzwiedzki is 11th after Day 1 and Henriksen 7th.

Patrick Roest (NED) is the best of the rest behind team mate Kramer. The World Junior Allround Champion of 2014 and 2015 skated personal records in both the 500m (36.27) and the 5000m. In the latter he defeated countryman Jan Blokhuijsen after a hard fought battle. Roest clocked 6:15.10 versus 6:15.99 for Blokhuijsen. With Kramer, Roest and Blokhuijsen, the Dutchmen not only took the top three spots in the 5000m, but also in the classification after Day 1. Roest is 0.42 behind Kramer in Sunday’s 1500m and Blokhuijsen 0.89.

Norway’s home favorite Sverre Lunde Pedersen came tenth in the 500m (36.54) and seventh in the 5000m (6:23.61), to conclude the first day in fourth place. Last year’s silver medal winner is 3.78 behind Kramer in Sunday’s 1500m.

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