Hamar, Norway

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With only 0.995 points separating the first seven skaters in the ranking, the men’s Sprint tournament at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships in Hamar (NOR) is very tight at the halfway point. Hein Otterspeer (NED) leads after making amends for a bumpy 500m with a solid win in the 1000m.

Second-ranked Merijn Scheperkamp (NED) is only 0.14s behind ahead of the second 500m on Saturday, while Marten Liiv (EST), Kai Verbij (NED) and Friday’s 500m winner David Bosa (ITA) are also in contention for the podium.

Bosa takes close finish after Otterspeer’s close call

In the men’s 500m, the first five skaters all finished within 0.10s of each other, demonstrating the tight margins in the men’s sprint field. Bosa ran away with the first win of the four-race competition, stopping the clock at 35.02s.

David Bosa ITA

David Bosa (ITA) won the 500m by just 0.02s from Merijn Scheperkamp (NED), with three more skaters within 010s of his time. @ISU

The 30-year-old Italian, who seized his first World Cup medal with a 1000m bronze last month in Calgary, pipped Scheperkamp to the line by 0.02s in the eighth pairing.

Scheperkamp ended up second, with Liiv third in 35.06s. Verbij came fourth in 35.11s and Otterspeer fifth in 35.12s.

Starting from the outer lane, Otterspeer caught up with pair-mate Piotr Michalski (POL) in the second turn, but he barely held the sharp inner corner.

“I entered the corner a bit too early,” Otterspeer explained. “Because of that I didn’t have pressure [on the blades]. The body cannot make a sharp angle with the ice because then you would end up against the markers.

“Then [halfway through the corner] the pressure is there, but then it’s too much, so you almost break away. But it all ended up OK.”

Hein Otterspeer NED

Hein Otterspeer (NED) finished fifth in the 500m but made amends with a comfortable win in the 1000m. @ISU

Otterspeer feared an early disqualification for hindering Michalski, who eventually finished sixth in 35.20.

“[After the race] I immediately asked my opponent if I it was OK, but he said ‘don’t worry’, so I knew I could continue the tournament.”

All to skate for on Day 2 as five eye podium places

Bosa started the 1000m with an equivalent 0.04s margin over second-ranked Scheperkamp, but the Italian wasn’t able to hold on to his advantage.

“I was really tired after the 500m and I didn’t make the speed,” he commented.

With a time of 1 minute and 9.74s, Bosa came eighth in the distance to drop to fifth in the ranking.

“After the 500m, I was really happy, but after the 1000m I was disappointed. I didn’t skate well, physically and technically.

“Tomorrow I try to gain more time in the 500m, and then I hope I can aim for the podium.”

Otterspeer, meanwhile, is aiming for the top spot. The 34-year-old veteran won the 1000m in 1:08.32, leaving Scheperkamp 0.44s behind in second place while Liiv came third in 1:09.00.

Halfway through the competition, the battle is far from over.

“It’s a Sprint competition and we’ve only had fifty percent”, Otterspeer said. “Even if I would have had a one-second-advantage, I would still have to go full-throttle tomorrow.”

Scheperkamp hasn’t given up hope of the title either.

“I’m happy with today,” he said. “My 500m could have been a little better, and I would have liked to have a bit of a bigger gap [ahead of Otterspeer after the first distance], but a championships comprises four distances and we’ll have two more tomorrow.

Merijn Scheperkamp NED

Merijn Scheperkamp (NED) is confident he can move up from silver to gold on the second day of the Sprint championship. @ISU

“I’ll have to make the difference in the 500m, and in the 1000m I just have to skate a great race. I always grow into a tournament, so I’m confident about tomorrow.”

While Scheperkamp looks up, he still also has a challenge to keep third-ranked Liiv at bay. The Estonian trails by a 0.14s margin in tomorrow’s 500m. If he manages to stay in the top three after four distances, he would be the first Estonian medalist at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships.

Format and schedule

The Sprint Championships are held on Friday and Saturday with a 500m and a 1000m for both genders on each day. The Allround Championships are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. The men will skate the 500m and the 5000m on the first day, followed by the 1500m and the 10,000m on the second. The women face the 500m and the 3000m on Saturday, followed by the 1500m and 5000m on Sunday.

In both the Sprint and the Allround tournaments the final ranking is based on the so-called samalog score over four distances. The samalog system converts times into points, with the 500m as starting point. For a 500m race, the number of seconds counts as the number of points. For the 1000m the number of seconds is divided by two to calculate the number of points; for the 1500m it’s divided by three, for the 3000m by six, for the 5000m by ten and for the 10,000m by twenty.

For all information about the ISU European Speed Skating Championships, please visit the webpage here.

Where to watch

Viewers will be able to watch the ISU European Speed Skating Championships (local time) via their national broadcaster/channel.

For countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel. You will find the full list on the Where to watch webpage here.