After two very full three-day weekends, where sprinters and all-rounders met in all the Olympic distances but the longest, this weekend there were only two days of competition. In a very cold Hamar, the programme consisted of the 1500m, as well as the longest distances – the 10,000m and the Team Pursuit.
Olympic champion Martina Sáblíková (CZE) had lost only one 5000m race in the past four years, which was against the later suspended Claudia Pechstein (GER). As she was ill during the first World Cup weekend in Heerenveen, she didn’t have enough points to skate at the end of the field. So she needed to set a time that would be hard to match for the four skaters coming after her. Her 7:03.95 was good, but she couldn’t keep an even schedule, and had four laps above 34, ending with a 34.5. This gave the current leader Stephanie Beckert (GER) her chance to win in the final pair, skating with last week’s surprise winner Jilleanne Rookard (USA). Beckert took the lead after 1800m, and kept her laps between 32.7 and 33.6. Spurting with a 32.7 final lap, she managed to stop the clock at 6:59.18. Rookard’s lap times went up, and in the last two laps she just lost a spot on the podium to Eriko Ishino (JPN), who managed 7:06.70 for her first World Cup medal. Beckert leads with 270 points, Rookard is still second with 200 and Sábliková moves up to third with 160 points.
On Sunday, the ladies tackled the 1500m, with only five skaters managing a time below two minutes. Christine Nesbitt (CAN) is unbeaten at this distance, but with 1:58.00 she was only a marginal 0.03 second faster than silver medallist Marrit Leenstra (NED). Leenstra skated strongly and evenly, and had the fastest pre-last lap and the second-fastest last lap, whereas Nesbitt had the second-fastest opening 300m and the fastest first full lap. Brittany Schussler (CAN) finished in third place with 1:58.96, and Laurine van Riessen and Yekaterina Lobysheva also finished below two minutes with 1:59.63; the Dutch lady being 0.005 second faster than the Russian. Nesbitt increased her overall lead after three victories to 300 points. Leenstra with 186 and Schussler with 170 both overtook Cindy Klassen (CAN) in the ranking. Olympic Champion Ireen Wüst (NED) did not compete and dropped to 5th place.
In the Team Pursuit, the Canadian team with Nesbitt, Klassen and Schussler won in an excellent 3:00.90. The Russians came in second, with Yekaterina Lobysheva, Yekaterina Shikhova and Julia Skokova reaching 3:03.90. The Dutch team, with Marije Joling, Marrit Leenstra and Jorien Voorhuis, finished third with 3:04.62, and now leads with 150 points, Germany has 145 and Russia and Norway both have 130 points. One of the Canadian skaters fell last week and so the team did not finish.
Essent ISU World Cup Speed Skating – Hamar (NOR) - Medal Winners
1 Christine Nesbitt CAN 1:58.00
2 Marrit Leenstra NED 1:58.03
3 Brittany Schussler CAN 1:58.96
1 Stephanie Beckert GER 6:59.18
2 Martina Sábliková CZE 7:03.95
3 Eriko Ishino JPN 7:06.70
Team Pursuit Ladies
1 Cindy Klassen, Christine Nesbitt, Brittany Schussler CAN 3:00.90
2 Yekaterina Lobysheva, Yekaterina Shikhova, Julia Skokova RUS 3:03.90
3 Marije Joling, Marrit Leenstra, Jorien Voorhuis NED 3:04.62