Richardson, Fredricks reign on Calgary's final dayAmericans capture crowns in men's 500m, ladies 1,000m
On the last day of the World Cup long track event in Calgary, there were no world records but still some exciting races, especially in the men's 5,000m, which was won by Sven Kramer in the second fastest time ever.
In Sunday's A-division, there were 13 personal-best times, including NRs for Belgium (Bart Swings, 6:14.65), Germany (Moritz Geisreiter, 6:13.03), Korea (Seung-Hoon Lee, 6:07.04) and the Netherlands (Lotte van Beek, 1:13.36).
The B-division had another 37 personal bests Saturday and 40 on Sunday, with NRs for Austria (Vanessa Bittner, 38.53 and 1:15.71; Armin Hager, 1:10.73), Belgium (Jelena Peeters, 1:58.96, Swings, 1:10.00), Finland (Elina Risku, 1:18.55), Hungary (Ágota Tóth-Lykovcán, 39.17), Italy (Mirko Giacomo Nenzi, 34.89 and 1:08.19), Romania (Marius Paraschivoiu, 35.56), Switzerland (Kaitlyn McGregor, 39.38, 1:17.62 and 2:00.21), Chinese Taipei (Ching-Yang Sung, 34.92), the USA (Heather Richardson, 1:53.37), Denmark (Viktor Hald Thorup, 6:34.99) and France (Alexis Contin, 6:11.95).
The men skated their second 500m race, and the top five in the rankings all skated a 24.8 lap. Mitchell Whitmore, who last month beat Tucker Fredricks to win the U.S. title, skated a personal best of 34.56. In the penultimate pair, Olympic champion Tae-Bum Mo (KOR) and Jamie Gregg (CAN) also skated 24.8 laps, but Mo had the fastest opening and set a leading time of 34.47. Gregg also finished faster than Whitmore with 34.53.
Fredricks had won the B-division on the first day in the same time as Ronald Mulder (NED), who had won the A-division for the first time in his life. Now the two met in a direct duel in the final pair. Fredricks took the lead with the fastest 100m of the day, 9.58, with Mulder making a small mistake in the opening. Thus, Fredricks won in 34.46 and Mulder finished with 34.52(9) in third place. Gregg's time was soon corrected to the exact same figure, so they shared bronze.
After her world record Saturday in the 500m, Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) skated the 1,000m and set 1:14.19 in the first pair. This time held until pair 7 when Van Beek (NED), winner of the 1,500m, skated. Where Lee had started in a fast 17.51 and a 26.8 lap, Van Beek started more modestly in 18.19 and 27.0 and was almost a second behind Lee at that point. Her strong point, though, was the last lap. Lee went around in 29.8, but Van Beek completed it in 28.0 to finish in 1:13.36; it was a personal best for her but also her first Dutch national record, surpassing Ireen Wüst's previous mark of 1:13.83. Wüst could not better her own personal best and finished in seventh position.
In the penultimate pair, world sprint champion Richardson (USA) managed a 26.7 lap after a 17.74 opening and ended with a 28.7 lap, bringing her to 1:13.23. In the final pair, world record-holder Christine Nesbitt (CAN) seemed nervous and did not skate her best. She lost to Brittany Bowe (USA), who -- just like teammate Richardson -- managed a 26.7 lap, then finished with 28.9 to reach 1:13.70, just missing her own personal best by 0.02 but pushing Lee off the podium.
The first half of the draw produced a number of strong performances, including the 6:15 by a rapidly improving Denis Yuskov (RUS). Swings, after his fall in the 1,500m, set a Belgian record of 6:14.65. In an exciting race, Geisreiter held off the attack of his fellow countryman, Patrick Beckert, to bring the German record down to 6:13.03; and a similarly exciting duel between Dutchmen Koen Verweij and Jan Blokhuijsen ended in 6:09.51 for Verweij and 6:11.91 for Blokhuijsen.
Nobody doubted, however, that the last two pairs would show the best skaters and that Kramer would win. The penultimate pair produced a great duel between Jorrit Bergsma (NED) and Seung-Hoon Lee. Bergsma took the lead, registering only 28-second laps until 3,000m, but Lee attacked with laps of 28.3 and 28.2. At 4,000m, Lee had overtaken Bergsma, but Bergsma also showed he knew how to race an opponent and finished better than Lee, overtaking him again on the last lap and bringing his personal best to 6:06.93, the fifth-best time ever skated. Lee finished in a Korean record time of 6:07.04.
Such thrills were not seen in the last pair, simply because Bob de Jong (NED) was behind Kramer for the entire race. Had they had similar competitions, they might both have been pushed to faster times. De Jong finished in 6:08.80, 0.04 above his personal best and in fourth place. And, as expected, Kramer won. He kept to 28 laps until 4,200m and ended with two low 29 laps, finishing in 6:04.46, a good second outside the world record.
"I wanted to keep the lap times even," Kramer said. "I regret a bit that I did not try to get that world record in the last two laps."
Ladies Team Pursuit
Teams from 12 countries competed in the Ladies Team Pursuit. The top eight in the World Cup rankings at the end of the year will qualify for the Olympic Games. Double Olympic champion Germany proved it has a long way to go, finishing 11th.
Four teams completed the six laps in a time under three minutes. The first of them was Japan, with the experienced Maki Tabata leading Aya Kikuchi and Nana Takagi to a national record, 2:58.53. The next team below three minutes was Olympic medalist Poland with Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus, Katarzyna Wozniak and, skating a strong final lap, Luiza Zlotkowska, setting a Polish record of 2:59.42. Then, world record-holder Canada and the Netherlands raced each other. Canada skated without Nesbitt, and the team of Brittany Schussler, Ivanie Blondin and Kali Christ finished just outside the podium places in 2:59.84. The Dutch team won in 2:57.82 with Wüst, Linda de Vries and Van Beek, who stood in for the unwell Marrit Leenstra.