The Utah Olympic Oval lived up to its reputation as the fastest ice in the world on Saturday. With the World Cup coming to a climax, Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) and Kjeld Nuis (NED) crushed the 500m and 1000m world records. In the 500m and the 1000m a total of five men skated faster than the previous world records. Patrick Roest (NED) won the Men's 5000m with a personal best, while Russia's Aleksandr Rumyantsev clinched the long distance World Cup in dramatic fashion.
Kulizhnikov defies final inner corner
Record-breaker Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) on his way to success in the men's 500m © International Skating Union (ISU)
Tatsuya Shinhama (JPN) was the first to break a world record on Saturday. In the fourth of six pairings, the 22-year-old Japanese sprinter was not distracted by a false start by compatriot Ryohei Haga. Shinhama opened in 9.50 seconds, adding a 24.3 full lap to finish in 33.83 seconds, 0.15 seconds faster than Kulizhnikov's 2015 mark.
The Russian himself was not happy about the draw, because he had to start in the outer lane. Going into the second inner lane at top speed in the 500m is one of the hardest things in Speed Skating. Kulizhnikov defied his own fear and went full throttle. "I was upset about having drawn the outer lane," he said. "But I just told myself to skate as fast as possible into that final inner corner and I managed to stay low and close to the ice."
After a 9.67s opener in the final pairing, Kulizhnikov skated an unmatched 23.9s full lap with a spotless final inner corner to clock 33.61s.
"I surprised myself," he said. "It was a rollercoaster of emotions, first to see my world record being broken and then to set a new record myself.
Shinhama ended up second and his compatriot Yuma Murakami, who had set the fastest opener in 9.46s, took third place in 34.11s.
With the final 500m race on Sunday yet to come, Kulizhnikov leads the ranking, with Shinhama 98 points behind in second.
Nuis sets 'world record in 1000m'
In the men's 1000m Kulizhnikov again started in the final pairing. This time he saw not one but three men beat the world record in the distance. In a far from perfect race, Kjeld Nuis (NED) hammered out 1:06.18 to beat the ten-year-old 1:06.42 world record set by Shani Davis (USA).
Kjeld Nuis (NED), who smashed the ten-year-old 1000m record © International Skating Union (ISU)
"I did not believe it when I crossed the line," Nuis said. "I thought I read 1:06.81 on the scoreboard and I was angry, only to see that it was 1:06.18 two hundred meters past the finish line."
The Olympic 1000m Champion swerved out of the inner corner heading into the second lap of his race.
"My opener was good but then I skated a very bad second lap. I was chasing him (his pairmate Håvard Lorentzen, NOR) on the backstretch and I did not focus on the corner. At this speed that corner suddenly comes up and I did not managed to bend it smoothly.
"When I take that corner well, I might have clocked a 24.1 lap instead of the 24.3 lap I did. I think that a sub-1:06 time is possible. This is a world record over 1100 meters", Nuis concluded with a joke.
After Nuis his compatriot and teammate Thomas Krol (NED) also managed to stay under Shani Davis' previous world record, clocking 1:06.25 to eventually end up in second place.
In the final pairing Kulizhnikov started versus world 1000m Champion Kai Verbij (NED). The Russian was faster than Nuis at the 600m split, but couldn't maintain his pace in the final lap, stopping the clock at 1:06.47. Verbij passed the Russian in the final inner corner to complete an all-Dutch podium in the distance. With 1:06.34 he was the third man to skate faster than the ten-year-old world record.
With his win, Nuis secured the distance World Cup, ahead of Verbij and Kulizhnikov.
Roest wins 5000m, Rumyantsev takes World Cup
Patrick Roest (NED) in the men's 5000m © International Skating Union (ISU)
Fresh Allround World Champion Patrick Roest (NED) won the 5000m on Saturday, just missing out on the Dutch national record in 6:03.70 on his first visit to the Utah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City. "I'm happy to have shaved five seconds off my personal best,” Roest said. “After last weekend [the World Allround Championships in Calgary, Canada] I was still a bit tired and I started at the pace of my own personal best. To miss out on the national record is a pity but it's a personal best and this was all I had today."
Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR) went into his race leading the World Cup rankings just one point ahead of Aleksandr Rumyantsev (RUS). The Norwegian started at Roest's pace but was not able to keep it up and eventually dropped to fifth place in 6:10.98. He thus lost the World Cup by only a 0.20 margin, with Rumyantsev coming fourth in 6:10.78.
Pedersen believed that he might have skated faster had he not started too quickly. "But I always go for the win,” he said. “Unfortunately I soon felt that it was not possible. Maybe I should have started slower, but that's always easy in hindsight."
Aleksandr Rumyantsev (RUS) © International Skating Union (ISU)
Pedersen eventually ended up third in the final long distance World Cup. Marcel Bosker (NED) finished second in 6:08.90 and also passed Pedersen in the ranking. World record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) finished third in 6:09.64 on Saturday.
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The ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series will be available on in some countries on the ISU Skating Channel.