Erfurt / Germany

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Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) took his first 500m World Cup win of the season in Erfurt on Friday. The world record holder skated 35.03 seconds in a super-competitive field. All top-10 finishers were within 0.15 of the winner.

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Michel Mulder (NED) grabbed the silver medal in 35.08 and Artyom Kuznetsov (RUS) took bronze in 35.10. 

Mulder was happy to be back on an international podium. The Olympic 500m champion has been struggling in recent years and did not manage to qualify for PyeongChang 2018 to defend his title.  

“I was just told that it’s three years since my last World Cup podium,” Mulder said. 

“This is the first time I skate in the A Division in two years. It’s really cool to be back among these guys. It makes a huge difference to skate in the A Division instead of the B Division in the morning. Only at this level you can really compare yourself with the best in the world.

“I did not expect this [medal] when I crossed the finish line. I started in the second pair and I thought, ‘If I do skate a good little race I might have a chance’. But this did not feel like a good little race. I made a mistake in the last inner corner, but apparently this was enough for silver.”

The men’s 500m World Cup is a very tight contest this season. Kulizhnikov climbed to seventh place with 270 points after his win in Erfurt. 

Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen (NOR), who came three-thousandths of a second short of the bronze medal in 35.10, still leads the standings with 436 points. 

Ronald Mulder (NED), who did not skate in Erfurt, is second with 416 points, and Kai Verbij (NED), who hopes to recover from a muscle injury in time for the Olympic Games, is third with 368.

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