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Patrick Roest and Sven Kramer(NED) ESSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1081800166

Patrick Roest (NED) and Sven Kramer (NED) at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Patrick Roest (NED) was crowned ISU World Allround Speed Skating Champion in Amsterdam in March 2018, with nine-time champion Sven Kramer (NED) finishing fourth. Had the pupil definitely beaten his master? The Dutch team mates crossed swords over the ISU European and the ISU World Allround Speed Skating title again in the 2018/19 season.

Patrick Roest (NED) Sven Kramer (NED) ESSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1081799040

Patrick Roest (NED) and Sven Kramer (NED) at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Roest joined Kramer's trade team with coach Jac Orie at age nineteen in 2015. Kramer, nine years Roest's senior, became a mentor for the Dutch prodigy, but he hadn't planned a change of generations in 2018 just yet. Despite being hampered by a back injury at the beginning of the 2018/19 season, Kramer had set his sights on retaking the Allround crown from his pupil.

Misfortune
Kramer started the season with a track record (6.10,97) at a training race in Inzell in October, before he was truck by misfortune. A couple of days before the Dutch ISU World Cup Speed Skating qualifiers the Olympic 5000m Champion injured his back when he lifted a suitcase. Roest won the 5000m qualifier, beating Kramer's 2015 Heerenveen track record (6:09.65) by 0.67 seconds.

 
 
 
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Kramer did qualify for the ISU World Cup Speed Skating races, but decided to return home after a disappointing 1500m B-Division performance at the first event in Obihiro in November. Roest started the ISU World Cup Speed Skating season with a 5000m win.

Both Kramer and Roest decided to skip the third ISU World Cup Speed Skating leg in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland and one week later Kramer decided to defy his back injury to skate the ISU World Cup Speed Skating 5000m in Heerenveen. The race ended up in a surprise win by Danila Semerikov (RUS), with Roest coming second and Kramer ending up in third place.

Patrick Roest (NED) Danila Semerikov (RUS) Sven Kramer (NED) WCSS NED 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1074122592

Patrick Roest (NED) Danila Semerikov (RUS) and Sven Kramer (NED) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (NED) 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Kramer was satisfied because he was competitive, but admitted that he was not fully recovered yet: "Looking back on the past two months, I'm very happy to skate 6:10 at the moment. I did not always have faith that everything would end up well with my injury, but it seems to be improving little by little. I still have good days and bad days and my skating is not what it should be yet."

Kramer had decided to focus only on a few races for the second half of the season: the ISU European Allround Speed Skating Championships in Collalbo, the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Inzell and the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships in Calgary.

Thriller in Collalbo

In Collalbo Roest was aiming at his career first ISU European Allround Speed Skating title, while his mentor was aiming at his tenth. The challenger was in pole position after an excellent 500m, but he had to bow his head for Kramer in the 5000m on the first day. Roest was still in the lead going into the second day, but Kramer beat him in the 1500m to take a 2.36 lead over his young team-mate into the final 10,000m.

Instead of following his young rival, the defending champion decided to take the initiative.

"I wanted to gain one or two tenths of a second per lap in the beginning," Kramer said. "I know that Patrick could have a good sprint in the final laps so I wanted to create a buffer for the attack. And in the end that's exactly how it worked out."

Patrick Roest (NED) Sven Kramer (NED) WCSS ITA 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1081801842

ISU European Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Kramer and Roest started the final distance with a similar game plan, with Sverre Lunde Pedersen (NOR) having skated a solid 10,000m to lay a high bar for first and second place.

"We've got the same coach and we had the same instructions," said Roest.

"We had to stay around Sverre's [Lunde Pedersen] lap times and after the halfway point we had to decide how we felt. Starting the 10,000m too fast, could be dangerous because a breakdown could even mean dropping beneath Sverre in the ranking."

Sven Kramer (NED) WCSS NED 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 1074107640

Sven Kramer (NED) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (NED) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 

Halfway through the race Kramer was executing his plan meticulously, while Roest was struggling to keep up and the Championship seemed to be over. But Roest did what Kramer had anticipated upon. He attacked ferociously in the final two laps to catch up is experienced team mate and even overhaul him with a final lap of 29.3 seconds. It was enough to win the 10,000m in 13:26.45, but the attack came too late to claim the title. Kramer finished 0.42 later in 13:26.88.

Patrick Roest (NED) ESSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1081801812

Patrick Roest (NED) at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Roest regretted the timing of his attack: "When you're able to skate 29.3 in the final lap, you haven't paced the race well. That was stupid, but that's knowledge in hindsight.

Kramer agreed that experience was key. For him collecting his tenth title was less important than being able to compete at top level again after having struggled with a back injury in the first half of the season.

"It's only a number, but it felt great skating the way I did this weekend. That's more than I could have dreamt of. Yesterday it was damage control, but today I could attack. It's great to be able to skate dominantly again, to make a tactical plan and to be able to execute it."

Climax in Calgary


After the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Inzell, in which neither Kramer nor Roest managed to win an individual title, the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships were next up. Roest was defending his 2018 title, while Kramer hoped to win another record extending tenth ISU World Allound Speed Skating title. And again Sverre Lunde Pedersen, who had shown great form winning the 5000m ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating title in Inzell, was in contention for the title too.

This time around Roest did not leave any room for doubt. With a total of 145.561 points the 23-year-old Dutchman broke the 2006 world points record of 145.742 by Shani Davis (USA). Pedersen put up a good fight, but eventually had to settle for bronze and Kramer took the first ISU World Allround Speed Skating bronze medal of his career.

Patrick Roest (NED) Jan Dijkema and Martina Sablikova (CZE) WASSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1128555998

Patrick Roest (NED) with Jan Dijkema, ISU President and Martina Sabilkova (CZE) at the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

With Roest way ahead in the ranking Kramer helped his compatriot to keep Pedersen at bay in the final 10,000m. Roest defended a 4.54 gap over Pedersen. "That's not very much in the 10000m," he said. "Sverre had set a good time and I had to find my rhythm in the beginning."

Roest was behind Pedersen's schedule in the first eight laps, but went on to skate faster splits to secure his title and win the distance in 12:51.17. "It was good for me to skate the 10000 with Sven (Kramer). He had to wake me up. Sometimes the head thinks differently than the legs should do. At some point Sven accelerated and I had to follow."

 
 
 
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World champion allround 2019🥇🔥

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Kramer settled for bronze in the overall classification. "That's nice, I don't have this color yet," the nine time champion joked. "But of course that's not what I came for. I could see this coming after I blew my 500m yesterday. The rest of the tournament was good, but it's not consistent enough. That reflects my whole season. I have to get rid of that inconsistency and that's something to work on for next season."

With that conclusion Kramer promised the Speed Skating fans yet another fascinating season in which Master and pupil will both compete and help each other to raise their level to unexplored Speed Skating territory.