Germany’s Claudia Pechstein won gold in a track-record six minutes, 56.60 seconds at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Stavanger on Sunday. Ivanie Blondin, of Canada, took silver in an epic battle with Irene Schouten (NED) and Martina Sáblíková (CZE) clinched the bronze.
Pechstein, Blondin and Sáblíková were the only skaters to stay under seven minutes. Isabelle Weidemann (CAN) came fourth in 7:00.82 and Schouten posted 7:01.03 to end up fifth.
The 45-year-old Pechstein’s previous World Cup victory was in Seoul, in November 2014.
“I’m still very happy. I’m happy with every time I won because it’s unbelievable to be on top at my age. Some of the other athletes could be my daughters. It’s good to still be up there. I’m really proud of myself.”
What’s in store for Pechstein this season?
“It’s only November so we shouldn’t talk about February (when the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games begin) just yet. But I was born in February and I know that I’m always good in that month.”
Blondin held off her favorite opponent, Irene Schouten, in the penultimate pairing, after Pechstein had already clocked her record time.
“I don’t know how many laps in she started to go a little bit faster. She was trying to break me, we were both trying to break each other and in the end, I ended up a little bit stronger,” Blondin said.
“But it could have been the other way around. You never know what’s going to happen in the 5000m.”
Blondin was still on gold-medal pace heading into the final lap, but her 34.4s couldn’t match Pechstein’s final lap of 33.2s.
“I was really tired and rather than keeping the focus on my technique, I was trying too hard to go as fast as I can. In Speed Skating if you try too hard, you end up going slower.”
Blondin’s silver medal placed her on top of the combined 3000/5000m World Cup ranking.
“I’m very happy. That’s something I’ve never accomplished before,” she said.