What a difference a day makes for Jutta Leerdam (NED). On Saturday she grumbled about doing everything wrong; on Sunday she found redemption and beat Angelina Golikova (RUS) for the Ladies’ Sprint title at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships in Thialf, Heerenveen. Thomas Krol (NED) cashed in on his first-day advantage to take the Men’s Sprint title.
Golikova started Sunday’s 500m with a 0.17-point advantage over Leerdam and increased the gap in the opening distance of the final day. She won the 500m in 37.42 seconds, with Femke Kok (NED) coming second in 37.48s. Leerdam had to settle for third place with 37.61s, which was not much more than damage control. Kok even surpassed her in the overall ranking after three distances.
One distance too far for Golikova
Heading into the final 1000m, Golikova defended a 0.57-second gap over Kok and a 0.7-second difference over Leerdam. It proved to be enough to keep Kok at bay, but World 1000m champion Leerdam recovered her stride in her favorite distance and managed to beat Golikova in difficult circumstances. With 1:14.00, Leerdam won the final distance and the overall classification. Golikova finished fifth in the final distance, clocking 1:15.66, and grabbed overall silver. Kok’s 1:15.12 in the final 1000m was third-best and gave her overall bronze.
(L-R) Angelina Golikova (RUS), Jutta Leerdam and Femke Kok (NED) at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)
“I was tired,” silver medalist Golikova said. “It’s not easy, four distances in one weekend.” The Russian’s first medal in an international sprint classification, having won 500m silverware previously, led to feelings of both disappointment and satisfaction. “A silver medal is great,” she said, “But the gold… it was so close. I don’t know what I could do more so I think it’s good for now.”
Leerdam was all smiles. “Yesterday I messed up everything and today was just a good day. Eventually I made up for everything in that final distance,” she said. “The ice was a bit softer [than Saturday], therefore I could put pressure in my strokes, which I wasn’t able to do yesterday. It was completely different. Physically I felt good [yesterday] but I did not get it back from the ice and now I did so that’s great. I did not have this one [European Sprint title] yet. It’s the second time I raced in this event and last time out I came fourth, so I’m very happy.”
Frustrating win for Verbij
The Men’s Sprint tournament resumed with a chaotic 500m on Sunday. Kai Verbij (NED) who had blown his chances of winning a third consecutive title when he crashed in Saturday’s 500m, redeemed himself with a superb 34.58s to win the distance. The victory provided the defending champion with frustration rather than consolation since it served as a reminder that he could have been in contention for another title.
After Verbij’s stunning display, Nico Ihle (GER) crashed out of the race badly. The ice had to be repaired and the following pairings were delayed. It did not affect Thomas Krol (NED), however. The Dutch 1000m and 1500m specialist, for whom the 500m is an anomaly, finished in 35.30s to stay on top of the standings. Hein Otterspeer (NED) did not have enough pace in the 500m to really threaten his teammate. With 35.12s he came fifth in the penultimate distance, placing him second overall, 0.32 behind Krol in the final 1000m. Joel Dufter (GER) came sixth in the second 500m (35.23s) and retained third place in the overall ranking.
Stamina key for Krol in sprint tournament
Apart from fourth-ranked Viktor Mushtakov (RUS) crashing out of the classification, the final 1000m did not alter the top of the final rankings any further. Krol won in a solid 1:08.02 to claim the title in an event he had not given top priority, placing his focus instead on the 1000m and the 1500m at World Cup events and the World Championships.
“I saw this event merely as a bonus,” Krol said. “The 500m is not my hobby but I’ve done a couple of good ones lately. And if you add that up to my 1000m, it can take you a long way. The 1000m is key to the overall Sprint classification. The field in the 500m is very close but only few sprinters can maintain their pace in the final lap of the 1000m and I’ve just got the stamina.”
Dufter’s bronze was his first medal at an international Sprint championships event. “I’m feeling pretty great,” he said. “I had no idea where I would stand internationally beforehand so I didn’t have any expectations. It’s fantastic to start like this in this silly season.”
Where to Watch
Viewers will be able to watch the ISU Speed Skating competitions that will take place within the hub either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel.
All the information is available in the Where to Watch which will be updated after each competition.The individual announcements and entry lists will be published under the respective events as soon as they are available. For further information regarding the ISU Speed Skating Hub please visit: https://www.isu.org/heerenveen2021.
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