Ireen Wüst (NED) won the World Allround title this weekend in Moscow. It was the third title for Wüst after 2007 and 2011. There were 13 personal bests (pb), five for the ladies.
The favourites for the podium were the reigning champion Ireen Wüst (NED), European champion Martina Sáblíkova (CZE) and the strongest sprinter among the participants, Christine Nesbitt (CAN) with not forgetting the almost 40-year-old Claudia Pechstein (GER). Dutch allround champion Marrit Leenstra competed but was feeling not well and thus didn’t have the strength to compete for the medals, unlike her compatriot Linda de Vries.
Nesbitt won the 500m as expected; her time was 38.30. Wüst was paired with Yekaterina Lobysheva (RUS). The Russian had a strong race and was fastest of the two with 38.95, but Wüst’s 39.37 gave her bronze for the distance. Sábliková was 14th with 40.31 and Pechstein 15th. Linda de Vries had her first 500m below forty seconds with 39.79, which brought her to sixth place. There were 3 personal bests in this distance.
Sáblíková won the 3000m in a new TR of 4:01.80, but Ireen Wüst finished right behind her in 4:02.69, both below the former track record. Cindy Klassen (CAN) had been the first below 4:11 with 4:07.50.
Pechstein bettered that to 4:07.14. Nesbitt raced just before the race of Wüst and Sáblíková, but having problems to keep the pace in the final laps, Nesbitt clocked 4:09.55 and was sixth.
Her pair mate De Vries finished stronger and took third place with 4:07.06, one of two personal bests in this distance. Wüst, always strong in the 1500m, took the overall lead with 79.818 points. Sáblíková, who knows how to win the 5000m, had 80.610, with Nesbitt in between with 79.891. Wüst was satisfied with the race, with enough strength to attack two laps before the end.
“Tomorrow’s 1500m will be a key distance. It’s my distance that I want to win and I like to skate with Nesbitt like last week.” De Vries was still close to the podium after two pbs.
The 1500m did not go as Wüst had hoped; where she beat Nesbitt a year ago and last week, the Canadian was this time the best on this distance.
Nesbitt won with 1:55.95 and took over the lead in the rankings as Wüst clocked 1:56.98. The time of Nesbitt was a new track record by the smallest possible margin. Although there was a second between them, Wüst still was next to Nesbitt on the podium, and third was former champion Cindy Klassen (CAN) who is on her way back to form. Klassen finished in 1:57.61 and passed De Vries to the fourth place in the ranking.
Third in the ranking after this third distance was Martina Sábliková, who did not have a bad 1500m, but finished fourth in 1:58.16. Nesbitt was leading with a 2.7 second margin on Wüst for the 5000m, Sábliková had to make up 14.55 on Wüst to win, but considering that her pb was also over 13 seconds faster, this seemed not impossible.
In the fourth pair for the 5000m, Linda de Vries overtook Cindy Klassen in the ranking in a direct duel. The two went side by side until Klassen took off at 3500m and seemed to succeed in winning the race, but the last lap that proved just too much, with De Vries managing a strong finish, sprinting towards the line and clocking7:08.09, 0.01 seconds behind her personal best time. In the end she passed Klassen by a mere 0.001 point.
They finished fourth and fifth in the overall classification and third and fourth for the distance, faster than Pechstein who didn’t reach beyond 7:11.08, far behind her track record on this rink, and was sixth in the final ranking. Then Sábliková faced Wüst.
Wüst attacked from the start but not as wildly as at times in the past. With good control she stayed close to Sábliková and used the crossing a couple of times to be in the slipstream and then make speed in the inner turn. As expected, Sábliková would break away to win the distance, but she could not accelerate in the last three laps, when Wüst got to lap times of 34 seconds. Sábliková kept low 33 laps to the end and won in 6:58.74, knowing she had not regained the title. Wüst’s 7:02.39 was a really strong result.
It actually gave her the title, as Nesbitt would need to set a personal best of 7:05.08 to win. She skated in the sixth and final pair against young Norwegian Ida Njåtun, who finished with a promising 7th place in the classification. Nesbitt was eighth on the distance, considerably better than a year earlier; 7:18.19 was enough to secure bronze.
Wüst: “I am very happy with this title, it felt so good; I felt strong all year and it is very special for me to prolong the title this way. I recently got the schedule for the last weeks of this season, and this period is really the most fun. This 5000m was the best I have ever skated, so close to Sábliková I have never been.”
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images