In what may be the shock of the Audi ISU World Cup season so far, China powered ahead of the previously all-conquering Republic of Korea team to win the ladies’ 3000m A Final in Dordrecht.
In a fascinating see-saw race, long-time leaders Canada were over-taken with just two laps to go but managed to hold off the fast-finishing Dutch and take the bronze medal.
For ladies’ 1500m champion and four-time gold medal-winning star of the opening World Cup event in Budapest, Choi Min Jeong (KOR) it was a surprising return to reality.
“We are a bit disappointed, we really focus on the relay,” Choi said. “It is so frustrating. We would like to have gone a lot quicker for sure. The relay gold is a big aim for the Olympics.”
The result does excitingly muddy the waters as all eyes turn to PyeongChang 2018, with China hauling themselves up from the disappointment of a penalty received in the relay heats in Budapest to take gold here in Dordrecht, and last week’s bronze medallists Russia, failing to reach the A Final. One constant, however, has been the fast-improving Canadians.
“It’s very satisfying. It all seems to be going the right way,” Kasandra Bradette (CAN) said. “We have been training really hard to gel together on the ice and as our individual performances have got better so our team has improved.”
Her teammate Valerie Maltais, perhaps unsurprisingly, echoed Bradette’s sentiment:.
“It’s really good for us to be so close to the Koreans and Chinese. We are learning from them,” she said. “They have great skaters – the Koreans have Choi! But also they are so good at their exchanges and strategy.”
Despite being firmly in the race from the start and cheered to the rafters throughout, the Dutch team were not quite able to close the gap and take a medal.
Russia won the B Final, ahead of Italy and the USA who finished second and third, respectively.