Salt Lake City / United States

Another day, another world record at the Utah Olympic Oval. Brittany Bowe (USA) took the Ladies’ 1000m mark to 1:12.18 on the final day of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Salt Lake City.

Pavel Kulizhnikov’s record well dried down on Sunday. The Russian won the men’s 500m, but could not beat the 34 second barrier once more: 34.13. Irene Schouten (NED) and Arjan Stroetinga (NED) won the Ladies’ and the Men’s Mass Start. The Chinese Ladies and the Canadian Men took gold in the Team Sprint.

The high altitude Salt Lake City track led to an impressive record count over the entire event: 4 individual and 2 team world records, 39 national records, and 166 personal bests.

Trading world records

Bowe and Heather Richardson-Bergsma (NED) kept on trading world records. After Richardson took Bowe’s 1500m world record on Sunday, Bowe broke Richardson’s 1000m world record on Sunday. “We see records falling almost every race, that’s a pretty cool situation,” Bowe said. “It just goes to show both of our competitive edge. It could be either one of us any given day, I’m glad it was me today.”

The American couple faced each other in the final pair again. Bowe had the fastest opener in 17.64, but she really made the difference with a 26.3 first full lap. Richardson tried to hang in, but couldn’t pull back at the final cross-over and the last inner turn. Bowe finished in 1:12.18, which was 0.33 faster than the world record Richardson set in Calgary last week. “It’s a great stepping stone, 1:11 hopefully soon,” Bowe said.

Richardson’s 1:13.45 in Salt Lake City was not enough for silver. In the penultimate pair Hong Zhang (CHN) also skated below 1:13 when she set 1:12.77. The Chinese lady also managed a 26.3 first lap, but lost time in the opener and in the last full lap. Richardson thus settled for bronze almost half a second ahead of Marrit Leenstra (NED), who ended up fourth in 1:13.93. “There’s only two ladies who are able to compete with the Americans,” Leenstra said. “That’s Hong Zhang and Jorien ter Mors (NED). They’re skating different technically. I’ll have to change something myself.”

Bowe leads the 1000m World Cup with 180 points. Richardson is second with 170 points and Zhang third with 150.

Kulizhnikov makes it four in four

Pavel Kulizhnikov may have been a bit too concentrated for his final 500m on the superfast Utah Olympic Oval. The Russian began with a false start in the final pair versus William Dutton (CAN). The Canadian was not distracted and opened in 9.46, to take the lead into the first turn. Dutton was still ahead when the couple entered the final straight, but Kulizhnikov managed to catch up and finished in 34.13. Dutton took the silver medal in 34.34.

Laurent Dubreuil (CAN) made sure of a second Canadian medal with 34,36 to take the bronze. Mika Poutala (FIN) missed the podium with only a 0.01 margin and ended up fourth in 34.37. Artur Waś (POL) was fifth with a new national record in 34,42. Espen Aarnes Hvammen (NOR) also grabbed a national record with 34.46 to end up ninth. The performance density was high, with the 34.50 of Friday’s silver medallist Mitchell Whitmore (USA) bringing him to 11th place only. The Dutch disappointed. Gerben Jorritsma was the only one with a personal best in 34,53. Ronald Mulder was 14th in 34,57 and complained about a minor groin injury afterwards.             

Kulizhnikov sovereignly leads the Men’s 500m World Cup with 400 points. Dutton is second with 300 points and Poutala third with 212 points.  

Team tactics hand Schouten victory

Netherlands took the initiative in the Ladies’ Mass Start. Irene Schouten faked an attack to set up her compatriot Janneke Ensing for a jump. “We wanted to make a tough race and I knew they wouldn’t let me go, so we thought up these tactics beforehand,” said Schouten. Ensing quickly took a hundred metre lead and Luiza Zlotkowska (POL) jumped after her.

The couple had a solid lead with six laps to go and worked together well. Ivanie Blondin (CAN) had to react if she wanted to keep victory in sight. Together with teammate Josie Spence she started the chase. Claudia Pechstein (GER) joined in and when the bell for the final lap rang, the leading couple were overtaken.

Schouten was placed perfectly, but she got a scare on the penultimate straight when last week’s winner Bo-Reum Kim (KOR) crashed behind her. “I heard something behind my back and I thought I just had to go all-out to the finish,” Schouten said. That’s exactly wat she did and entering the final straight there was daylight between the Dutch lady and Ivanie Blondin (CAN), who finished second. Misaki Oshigiri (JPN) took the bronze medal.

Schouten took the World Cup lead with 180 points in the mass start. Blondin climbed from third to second place with 150 points. Despite her crash, Kim took five points in an intermediate sprint, but dropped to third place with 105 points anyway.

Swings against the rest

The Dutch team made last week’s winner Bart Swings (BEL) sweat in the Men’s Mass Start. Jorrit Bergsma attacked with eight laps to go and the Belgian had to counter. Alexis Contin (FRA) was the next to attack and again Swings had to counter. Longjiang Sun (CHN) caught up with Contin, but the couple could not stay in front. When Swings closed the gap, Bergsma took his chance to jump another time. The others looked at Swings again.

Fabio Francolini (ITA) and Arjan Stroetinga saved energy behind the Belgian’s back. Bergsma was caught when the bell rang for the final lap, and Stroetinga began his sprint just before the last corner. Swings finally had to bow his head. Stroetinga finished more than half a second before Francolini, who beat Swings on the line to take silver. Swings secured the bronze with a 14 second lead over the rest. Alexis Contin (FRA) finished fourth.

Swings leads the Mass Start World Cup with 170 points, ahead of Stroetinga with 150 points and Bergsma with 120 points.

New World Records in Team Sprint

After last week’s silver medal China won the ladies’ Team Sprint in Salt Lake City. In the final race versus last week’s winners Japan, Chinese Jing Yu, Hong Zhang and Qishi Li set a new world record in the second official team sprint competition ever: 1:24.65. Yekaterina Shikhova, Nadezhda Aseyeva and Olga Fatkulina took silver for Russia in 1:26.07 and Japan’s Erina Kamiya, Maki Tsuji and Nao Kodaira secured bronze in 1:26.62.

China now leads the Ladies’ Team Sprint World Cup with 180 points. Japan is second with 170 points and Canada third with 130.

Canada won the men’s team sprint. William Dutton, Alexandre St-Jean and Vincent De Haître also skated a World Record when they finished in 1:17.75. Without Kulizhnikov the Russian sprinters still managed to grab silver. Artyom Kuznetsov, Aleksey Yesin and Kirill Golubev skated 1:19.12. Last week’s winners the Netherlands started without injured Ronald Mulder and took bronze in 1:19.20, now with Stefan Groothuis, Hein Otterspeer and Kai Verbij. They easily left USA behind, after a chaotic American start with a fall of Kimani Griffin. USA still managed to reach the sixth time in 1:20.84.

The Dutch still lead the Team Sprint World Cup with 170 points. Russia climbed to second place and USA is third with 125 points. Canada is fourth with 100 points.

In the Grand World Cup, Richardson leads the ladies’ standings with 530 points, ahead of Bowe who has 500. Bart Swing’s 70 points in Mass Start helped him keep his lead over Pavel Kulizhnikov. Swings has 450 points, Kulizhnikov 380.