Anni Friesinger wins ISU Speed Skating Championships in Japan
In the 1500m, Anni Friesinger (GER) was the first of the favorites to race. She had only skated a few selected 1500m races, but she is experienced and knows where to peak. Last year, she was ill and Ireen Wüst (NED) had has no trouble taking the title then. Butthis year proved different. Wüst was suffering from a head cold and was not up to her best. It was Friesinger who erased Timmer’s Olympic track record with a new best time of 1:56.06, starting with a fast 25,24 opening. Paulien van Deutekom (NED) finished in second place, over a second behind Friesinger with 1:57.36. Bronze, like last year, went to Kristina Groves. The Canadian World Cup winner raced with Wüst, and finished in 1:57.63.
The 3000m ladies on Saturday saw Kristina Groves (CAN) win her first-ever individual World title, with a well-planned race in the final pair. Her winning time of 4:05.03 was a new track record. Groves led a pair of two other medalists who earned their rewards for patience in their careers: Paulien van Deutekom was second, just as in the 1500m, and Daniela Anschütz- Thoms (GER) was third. Van Deutekom laid down the first serious challenge for the podium, finishing in 4:05.49 and being the first to beat the former track record of Claudia Pechstein (GER). This withstood the assault of Anschütz-Thoms in the next pair, although it was only the final lap which made the difference with the German’s time of 4:05.76. Then, last year’s champion Martina Sábliková (CZE) surprisingly could beat neither of those times, and so it came down to Groves in the final pair, against Renate Groenewold (NED). The two started more conservatively than many of the other skaters; Groves had only the sixth best split at the 1000m mark. She managed to keep low 32 laps, however, at a time when most of her competitors had seen high 32s or 33, and this made the difference – as Groenewold faded, Groves powered on to the winning time.