USA's Richardson, Bowe go 1-2 in Berlin 1,000mAmerican's 1:14.51 breaks track record; Dutch ladies win team pursuit
On the last day of the World Cup event in Berlin, Germany, American Heather Richardson showed great form again in bettering the 1,000m ladies track record with a time of 1:14.51.
World record-holder Brittany Bowe of Team USA saw her friend, Richardson, sprint away from the start and, with laps of 27.4 and 29.3 after a 17.68, finish in the new track record (shaving more than half a second off the previous best of 1:15.04). Bowe finished almost a second behind her, but her 1:15.42 was just enough to be the best of the rest.
"I was really happy to have a solid 1,000m and capture the track record, but I'm looking forward to coming home and putting some more training in," Richardson said.
"Back to back to back 1-2 finishes in the 1,000m with Heather has been exciting to say the least," Bowe said. "It's been a demanding start to the season with a heavy race schedule, so it's important that we get home to relax, recover and then get back to work!"
The 1,000m for ladies had to do without former world record-holder Christine Nesbitt of Canada, who went home with physical problems. In a tight race, Olga Fatkulina of Russia took on Dutch skater Lotte van Beek. Van Beek had a 9.2 last lap, almost managing to overtake the world champion, but the Russian took the pair and the bronze medal in 1:15.49, with Van Beek timed at 1:15.53.
Many different skaters were in contention for the 500m. The first good time was registered by Pekka Koskela of Finland, in 35.15. In pair seven, Joji Kato of Japan was the first below 35 with 34.87 following a very strong last turn. Jesper Hospes of the Netherlands in pair eight posted a creditable 35.04.
In pair nine, Japan's Keiichiro Nagashima finished in 35.01 and briefly took second place before Korea's Tae-Bum Mo and Michel Mulder of the Netherlands skated the final pair -- together again after they shared gold and silver twice this weekend. Mulder had won the first 500m and Mo the 1,000m, with the other runner-up in each case. Both started alike, with 9.66, but then Mulder skated the first turn in too much of a hurry and lost to Mo. The Korean won the race in 34.87, 0.002 faster than Kato. Mulder's 34.87 put him in third place.
Dutch skater Sven Kramer had won all the long distances so far this season, but he was not in Berlin, opening the way for others. His fresh teammate, Douwe de Vries of the Netherlands, was the first below 6:20 with 6:18.64, and the next was Kramer's former teammate, Dutch competitor Jan Blokhuijsen, now training with another coach. Blokhuijsen managed to keep his lap times pretty even; only his last lap was 30.6. It brought him to 6:15.66.
Russian Ivan Skobrev just missed de Vries's time by 0.02, but Belgian Bart Swings was 0.02 faster than De Vries and still had the podium in view at that point. In the final pair, Seung-Hoon Lee of Korea battled the Netherland's Jorrit Bergsma, and at the halfway point Bergsma was just inside Blokhuijsen's time and three seconds faster than Lee. But in the last four laps, Lee fought back, skating about half a second faster each lap, which made for an exciting finish. Bergsma held out and managed to beat Blokhuijsen's time, finishing in 6:14.82.
On the last lap, Lee could not keep to 29 pace. That is where he lost out to Blokhuijsen, who finished in second place. Lee was third with 6:16.12.
Ladies team pursuit
The six highest-ranked teams after Berlin qualify for Olympic participation, and with them, the teams skating the two fastest times outside the top six. The German ladies, Olympic champions in 2010, needed to move up in the rankings or skate faster than 2:59.47, the qualifying time set by Norway, to participate. But the diversity in the German team did not make it easy for them, and they fell short in their mission; their 3:05.86 left them in ninth place.
The Dutch Ladies won again with Ireen Wüst, Jorien ter Mors and Marrit Leenstra, in 2:58.19. In second place was the Polish team, with many supporters in the stands. The 2010 Olympic bronze medalists -- Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus, Luiza Zlotkowska and Natalia Czerwonka -- reached 3:01.18. Korea, with Seon-Yeong Noh, Bo-Reum Kim and Shin-Young Yang, was third in 3:02.04.
The Netherlands leads the World Cup with 300 points, ahead of Poland with 195 and Canada with 190. The other teams who qualified for Sochi are from Japan, Korea, Russia, USA and Norway.
Richardson also leads the Grand World Cup, the ranking over all distances, with 53 points ahead of Bowe with 43 and Sang-Hwa Lee of Korea with 41. The men's Grand World Cup leader is American Shani Davis with 53 points, followed by Koen Verweij and Sven Kramer, both of the Netherlands, who have 35 and 30 points.