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ISU Essent World Cup Speed Skating Final – Berlin(GER)
The Essent ISU World Cup series concluded in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, where the final races of the World Cup season took place.
The Essent ISU World Cup series concluded in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, where the final races of the World Cup season took place. World Cup trophies were presented to the best skater of the season in each distance including the Mass Start Race and to the best in Team Pursuit. Czech skater Martina Sábliková had her trophy already guaranteed in the long distances by winning the five preceding competitions; in the other distances, the Cups went to Jing Yu (CHN, 500m), Christine Nesbitt (CAN, 1000 & 1500m)
The Team Pursuit Cups went to the Canadian ladies.
For the first time in the history of the World Cup Speed Skating series a special prize from Essent and US $20,000 was awarded to the Lady and Man who had accumulated the highest number of points throughout the season and be crowned ‘Grand World Cup’ winner. These prices went to Christine Nesbitt and Kjeld Nuis (NED).
For each competition in the individual distances, the top 5 ranked competitors earned 'Grand World Cup' points. Before the final the Dutch skaters Ireen Wüst and Stefan Groothuis were in the lead of the ‘Grand World Cup’ rankings, with Christine Nesbitt and Shani Davis in pursuit. Unfortunately Wüst was not well and had to withdraw from the races in Berlin knowing that this gave Nesbitt the chance of taking the Grand World Cup.
In the 500m for Ladies competition was tight. Jenny Wolf (GER) had taken over the lead by points from Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) last week, but today Jing Yu won and grabbed the lead. Lee had set a 38.00 when Yu and Wolf skated as the final pair. Yu was the only skater below 38 seconds with 37.94, but Wolf’s 38.37 was still good enough for bronze and Nesbitt gathered 4.5 towards the overall World Cup with her fourth place. Yu now had 810 points, Wolf 779 and Lee 770.
The 3000m Ladies was much like the 5000m last week. Olympic silver medalist Stephanie Beckert (GER) raced very well and reached 4:05.62. Martina Sábliková completed the task to stay unbeaten this season. She followed with a more even schedule and won the race in 4:03.14. Her pair mate Claudia Pechstein (GER) on home ice had to settle for bronze with 4:07.64, just below the time of Dutch Linda de Vries who was fourth in 4:07.80.
Sábliková won all long distance races this season and won the Cup for the fifth time in a row, with 650 points. Beckert had overtaken Pechstein in the last race; she was now second with 410 points, Pechstein had 405.
Saturday started with the second 500m races. Christine Nesbitt skated 38.17, Jenny Wolf did not reach the time of Nesbitt but finished in 38.22. So Wolf would not win the World Cup again; she would have needed a win to overtake Yu. So now it was between Yu and Lee, and they both knew that winning the distance meant winning the World Cup 500m. They both gave it their all, set very fast times for this track and air pressure, Yu managed to win in 37.63, only 0.03 faster than her pair mate Lee, who was second in 37.66. Yu won the World Cup with 960 points, Lee was second with 890 and Wolf was third this year with 869 after winning the World Cup 500m six times in a row.
With her third place, Nesbitt had taken over the lead in the Grand World Cup, a lead that the 1500m would only enlarge
In the 1500m, Nesbitt had lost her lead in the ranking the previous week due to her absence, but now the number one Ireen Wüst couldn't sart and it was not hard for Nesbitt to regain the Cup. Before that, her teammate Brittany Schussler (CAN) had her best race of the season, finishing in 1:57.81, gaining her the fourth place eventually. This time stood until Sábliková skated. She finished in 1:57.36, mainly thanks to an incredible 30.9 last lap. Only in the final pair this time was bettered. Nesbitt had the fastest opening of 25.32, and after 600m was more than a second faster than Marrit Leenstra (NED). However, Leenstra gained a second back in the final lap but it was not enough: Leenstra finished in 1:56.93, Nesbitt in 1:56.77. The final points in the World Cup for Nesbitt were 510, 450 for Wüst and 401 for Leenstra. Thus Nesbitt won the World Cup 1500m for the second time in a row. Sábliková got 10.5 points in the Grand World Cup ranking for her third place and slipped past Wüst.
In the 1000m Ladies, Nesbitt was leading with 400 points but had to make sure that Leenstra would not win, as Leenstra had only 25 points less. Last year’s World Cup 1000m winner Heather Richardson (USA) was third with 339 points.
Hong Zhang (CHN) skated strong, impressing with a first full lap of 27.5 and finishing in 1:15.83, back on the level she had achieved at the World Sprint Championships where she took bronze. Her time stood until the top three skaters in the ranking took to the ice. Last week’s winner Richardson first gave it her all, opened fastest and with a 27.7 lap and a 30.2 final lap reached 1:15.77. But Nesbitt kept her unbeaten status. She opened a bit faster than Zhang, had also a 27.5 first lap and finished with a 29.2 lap, taking the victory in a new track record of 1:15.04. Leenstra reached only sixth place with 1:16.22. This gave Nesbitt the World Cup with 550 points; last year’s winner Richardson overtook Leenstra and finished in second with 459 points, Leenstra had 420. With high rankings in the three shortest distances, Nesbitt won the Grand World Cup with 116.25 points. Sáblikova has 86.5, Wüst 85.
In the Mass Start race, Claudia Pechstein won in 8:52.06 and left Mariska Huisman, who had won the first two races, behind in 8:52.32. In third place Anna Rokita (AUT) finished in 8:52.60, overtaking Foske Tamar van der Wal (NED) and Maria Lamb (USA). Huisman won the first Mass Start World Cup with 320 points, Pechstein remained second with 310, Rokita had 175, Van der Wal 160, and Lamb 155.
The skaters will return to Heerenveen for the World Single Distance Championships that take place from 22 to 25 March.
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