The allround skaters gathered this week in Moscow (RUS) for the third World Cup of the season, where the 1500m was on the program, together with the longest distance, the 5000m for ladies on Saturday and Low air pressure and good ice making facilities were at the heart of track records improvements for all distances skated.
The Ladies started with the 5000m. The first surprising time was the 7:01.72 for 20-year-old Stephanie Beckert (GER). The youngest member of the German team had never really been a high profile skater at any World Cup, but managed to keep a steady pace of 33 laps until the very end, thus improving her personal best time with 8 seconds. When Olympic Champion Clara Hughes (CAN) could not keep that schedule and finished two and a half second slower, it was clear that this was not merely ‘good ice’, but a strong promise for the future of German skating. The oldest German participant, 36-year-old Claudia Pechstein, after a 32.7 lap, in a new track record of 6:49.92, three seconds above the world record, performed a race that certainly matched her golden Olympic performance of 2002. Martina Sáblíková (CZE), who dominated this distance in past seasons, was unable to come close and had to settle for second place, with 6:57.18. Claudia Pechstein’s comment: “I’m so happy. I had hoped for 6:55, but I started faster than expected, it felt good, and one lap came after the other. I felt like at the Olympics. For a while I thought Martina would somehow manage to beat me again, but she hasn’t been fit in the last week.” Still, the Czech champion leads with 260 points, Pechstein is second with 210 now.
The 1500m has been dominated by the Canadian skaters this year. However, the person who took the track record away from Anni Friesinger, was Claudia Pechstein, who brought a time below 1:56 at: 1:55.96. Then Christine Nesbitt (CAN) started faster than Pechstein, had two laps that were faster, but finished with a 32.2 lap where the German had a 30.4. The 1:56.40 of Nesbitt brought her to second place. Kristina Groves (CAN), who had won both previous races, finished in third place with 1:56.76. Groves leads overall with 270 points, Anschütz-Thoms (GER), who finished fourth in Moscow, is second with 200, then follow Nesbitt and Pechstein.
This win was an even bigger surprise than on the 5000m and Claudia Pechstein, who shifted to training with Peter Mueller in Norway last year, could not stop smiling from ear to ear. “I wanted to reach the podium. Peter said ‘you can also win today’, but I answered ‘Hey, take it easy..’ It was my last lap that did it. The older the wine, the better, and the older Pechstein, the better she is.”
Pechstein made her World Cup debut exactly 17 years ago and now became the oldest World Cup winner ever.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images