Salt Lake City / USA

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After falling agonizingly short a week ago, Denis Yuskov (RUS) lived up to expectations and wrote his name in the history books when he skated 1 minute and 41.02 seconds in the 1500m in Salt Lake City to take gold and shave 0.02 seconds off the world record.

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“I knew I had a chance. It was do or die,” Yuskov said after his heroics at the Utah Olympic Oval. 

The 28-year-old Russian got close to the world record when he won last week’s 1500m in Calgary in 1:41.33. The difference on Saturday was made in the first and second full laps. 

“I wanted to skate the first 300m faster, but I did not manage to. My first 300m was the same as in Calgary, 23.6, but after that it was 24.8 and 25.5 instead of 25.0 and 25.7 in Calgary,” Yuskov said.

Although the final lap was a little slower than the Calgary schedule, 27.0 instead of 26.8, Yuskov had enough left in the tank to beat the 1:41.04 Shani Davis (USA) set in Salt Lake City in 2009.

“I’m tired, because of all those weeks here,” he said. “There was a lot of emotional pressure, because I was thinking of the world record so much.” 

Yuskov clocked his time in the final pairing versus Joey Mantia (USA), who finished fourth in 1:42.77.

Koen Verweij (NED), facing Thomas Krol (NED) in the penultimate race, set the bar with a personal best in 1:41.63, breaking the national record (1:41.95) he set in Calgary last week. 

Krol could not keep up with Verweij, but also set a personal best in 1:42.63, to take bronze. 

When Verweij came off the ice he knew that his training partner Yuskov was capable of skating a world record. 

“I could see it coming after my own 1:41.63 in a sloppy race with quite some little mistakes,” he said.

The Dutchman was satisfied with his own performance after having missed the World Cup circuit for two years because of kidney problems.

“I can see that I made good steps over the past months,” he said. “The speed comes easy, now I have to work on the second part of my race. I didn’t manage to stay low enough, and I didn’t keep my arms on the back, that’s something I have to work on.”

With three wins and a total of 300 points, Yuskov leads the World Cup ranking, ahead of Verweij wth 252 points and Mantia with 250 points.

Full results and classifications. Follow the discussion on social media by using #WCSpeed and #SpeedSkating and watch the live stream on the ISU Skating Channel.