“It was a beautiful Netherlands-Norway battle,” said Patrick Roest (NED) after he retained the European Allround title in a tight dual with home favorite Sander Eitrem (NOR) in Hamar, Norway. The Dutchman almost blew his chances with a mistake at the final crossing with his Norwegian rival in the 1500m, but managed to regroup for a thrilling final 10,000m.
Far behind the Dutch-Norwegian battle, Bart Swings (BEL) brought home his first European Allround medal in third.
Roest forced into backstretch blunder
After already having beaten Roest in the 5000m on Saturday, Eitrem repeated the feat in the 1500m, moving into the Allround lead in the process. The 20-year-old Norwegian fearlessly took on the defending champion in the final pairing of the men’s competition’s first distance on Sunday.
Sander Eitrem (NOR) held his nerve and his pace to force Patrick Roest (NED) to give way in the 1500m and take his second win of the weekend. @ISU
Having started from the outer lane, Eitrem took full advantage of the draft at the backstretch in the first full lap to take a 0.39s lead at the 700m split. Roest was not able to gain back lost ground in the second full lap, and Eitrem thrived on the cheers of an enthusiastic home crowd.
The Norwegian youngster eventually forced Roest into an awkward position. While the Dutchman tried to get past his rival before entering the final backstretch, Eitrem stood his ground and the pair ended up level, with Eitrem having priority coming from the outer lane.
Roest struggled to overhaul Eitrem before entering the final corner, but Eitrem refused to concede and Roest eventually had to give way, losing precious time.
Patrick Roest (NED) lost valuable time to Eitrem in the incident, slipping to second place in the Allround ranking ahead of the 10,000m. @ISU
“I made two mistakes,” said Roest. “The first one was that I was not good enough, although you may not see that as a mistake.
“My second fault was that I thought I was able to cross in front [of Eitrem], so I accelerated in the corner. I only got level and I eventually had to hold back.
“If I would not have accelerated in the corner, I would have lost less time.”
Eitrem had not really been paying attention to his opponent until they were on the backstretch.
“I did not see him coming. I thought he would cross in front of me. When I saw it, I just went on,” said the Norwegian.
Finishing in 1 minute and 44.44s, Eitrem was the only skater to keep his time under 1:45 to win the 1500m. He also took the lead in the overall ranking. Roest lost 1.39s at the distance, finishing in 1:45.83s to come second and slip to the same position in the Allround competition.
Eitrem’s compatriot Peder Kongshaug took third place in the 1500m with 1:46.01, but Swings, just 0.02s behind in fourth, held on to third place in the overall ranking.
The Olympic mass start champion from Belgium didn’t have any title aspirations at that point, trailing leader Eitrem by 29.06s.
“[Before the tournament] I went for the podium, looking forward to a battle with Marcel Bosker, Beau Snellink (both NED) and Eitrem too, but he skated such an impressive 5000m on Saturday that I knew my battle was for bronze," said Swings.
Battle of attrition in the 10,000m
Disappointed by his 1500m result, Roest had to regroup quickly for the 10,000m. The defending champion had to make up over 1.78s on Eitrem to retain his title and decided to attack from the gun.
Roest, left, knew he had to attack Eitrem from the start of the final race to win back the seconds and regain top spot on the podium. @ISU
“I knew I had to attack him,” Roest explained. “His personal best is worse than mine, but I knew that he could do better and that’s exactly what he showed.
“The 10,000 is always difficult. I’ve skated good ones and bad ones, especially because I had to win time instead of defend a gap.”
Roest built a 1.78s lead over the first three laps, but from that moment onwards, Eitrem stayed within striking distance. Halfway through the race the Norwegian even increased pace to gain a few hundredths of seconds back on his opponent.
With eight laps to go, Roest also accelerated, bringing his lap times down under 31 seconds. Eitrem tried to counter, but eventually had to concede defeat with two laps to go.
“Those final seven laps, I had to go flat-out,” Roest said. “I saw that he was also giving it his all and I knew it was going to be difficult. Lucky for me, that he couldn’t keep up.”
Roest finished in a time of 12 minutes and 58.09s, gaining 6.15s on Eitrem, who still set a personal best in 13:04.24.
Roest, delighted with the Allround title victory, was also happy to have entertained the public in a thrilling contest with Eitrem. @ISU
Roest was extremely happy to bring home the title after he lost the World Allround Championships against the now retired Nils van der Poel (SWE) in Hamar last year.
“This feels as a very beautiful title, especially because of the way the tournament unfolded,” the Dutchman said.
“I think Eitrem and me, we really put Allround skating back in the public’s view with such a great battle.”
Energetic Eitrem pleased to put on a show
Eitrem was happy with his own performance and could only agree with Roest on the entertainment value of the weekend’s back-and-forth battle.
“I had a lot of energy and my 10,000m was very good,” said the Norwegian.
“I tried to keep up with Roest, but he started to skate faster so he was just stronger today. I think it was a great show to watch.”
Despite losing the lead, Eitrem, left, was pleased with his improved 10,000m, which secured a podium place alongside Roest and Bart Swings (BEL). @ISU
The 20-year-old took away a lot of confidence from his performance.
“I learned that I can skate a good 10,000m. I was very nervous before the race, because that one in Calgary [Eitrem finished 10th, 30s behind winner Davide Ghiotto (ITA), at December’s World Cup] was not good, so it was nice to skate a good 10,000m. I hope to be able to fight for titles a lot more in the future.”
Swings finished the 10,000m in 13:22.92 for sixth place in the distance, to secure third place in the overall ranking.
“It was a stable weekend,” said the Belgian. “In the 10,000m I knew that I had to skate a solid race and not take any risks to bring home the bronze.”
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.