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Speed/Short Track Skating - 12. February 2008.

ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships –Berlin (GER)

Ladies


Paulien van Deutekom (NED) was crowned world champion for the first time, with 162.191
points. Ireen Wüst was the reigning champion. Last year’s runners-up, Anni Friesinger and
Cindy Klassen, were both not competing for various reasons. The main competition would
seem to come from Canada though, where Kristina Groves is becoming ever stronger in all
distances and Christine Nesbitt especially in the shorter distances, and from Wüst’s team mate
Paulien van Deutekom, who has come very close to Wüst this year. Also the German ladies,
Claudia Pechstein and Daniela Anschütz-Thoms were under high expectations at these home
championships, and then Martina Sáblíková from the Czech Republic could come
dangerously from behind in the longer distances.



speedskatingPaulienvanDeute.jpg



On the 500m, there were two personal best times, but there would not be many this weekend.
Christine Nesbitt won in 39.03, Wüst was second in 39.28 and third was Fei Wang from
China in 39.57. In fourth was Groves with 39.64 and Paulien van Deutekom had 39.65. But
the German ladies lost a lot of ground here already. Sablikova’s 40.92 was as could be
expected.


The 3000m for ladies would give a first real means to compare the competition. After a series
of times between 4.12,98 and 4.22,54 by the first 12 skaters, in pair 7 the stadium watched
expectantly as Paulien van Deutekom went out with 19.00 and had it follow by a 30.1, 31.3,
31,9 before having three 32 laps and finally a 33.3. Her time, 4:03.33 was not a track record,
but was an impressive time. In the next pair, Christine Nesbitt did well with 4:07.34, which
time was bettered in the next by Kristina Groves who had a series of 31 and 32 laps, so a
more even race than Van Deutekom, but not as fast. 4:06.36 was her time. Then Martina
Sáblíková met Claudia Pechstein. Sáblíková started 20.02 and then laps between 1.0 and 3.2.
Her attempt to gain speed in the end did only slow her down but she finished in the second
time with 4:05.69. Pechstein struggled all along. “I couldn’t put my power into speed”, she
said later. “My blades are not communicating with the ice as it is now.” Her time was 4:12.09,
and it brought her to the 9th place, robbing her from any chance to take a title here. Anschütz
had similar problems and finished 8th. Ireen Wüst was the only one to look at, and she tried to attack the time of her team mate. Starting 19.35, she also had a 30.1, 31.1, 32.1. She then tried to lower the laps and managed a 31.8, but that blew her up, and what followed were 32.8, 33.9 and 35.1, and the fourth time, 4:06.62. At the end of the first day, Paulien van Deutekom was the surprise leader with 80.205 points, second was Christine Nesbitt with 80.253 and third the defending champion with 80.383 points. Then followed Groves and Wang.


The next day started with the ladies’ 1500m. The favorites skated in the last pairs, starting
with Wüst and Groves. Wüst opened 25.84, at that point the fastest, and continued with 29.1,
20.3 and 22.3, beating Groves with 1:57.59 over 1:58.67. This meant that Wüst had 119.579
points and stayed ahead of Groves after 3 distances. Groves had 120.256 points. In the last
pair, Nesbitt started faster than Wüst with 25.77, Van Deutekom 26.09. Nesbitt was flying in
the start, with a 28.8 lap. Paulien had 29.1, but then 30.2, where Nesbitt dropped to 30.6. In
the last outer, Van Deutekom took this race. 1:57.83, the second time on this distance, behind
winner Wüst. Nesbitt came third with 1:58.57.

This meant that in the ranking, Van Deutekom I N T E R N A T I O N A L S K A T I N G U N I O N
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lead with 119.481 point, and that Nesbitt had lost a spot and dropped to third behind Wüst,
with 119.773 points. The difference between the two Dutch ladies was less than a second on
the 5000m. Nesbitt was less than three seconds behind Van Deutekom and Groves almost
eight.


That made for an exciting last distance. In pair three, Martina Sáblíková gave all she had in an
attempt to make the podium, and she came close with an excellent 6:59.26, which was a new
track record. In the race between Ireen Wüst and Christine Nesbitt, Wüst could not beat that
time, but she had no trouble staying ahead in the ranking. She opened fast again, and her laps dropped gradually, but never really dramatic. She gained 162.533 points. Her 7:09.54 was
good, but not unbeatable by Van Deutekom in the next pair.

Christine Nesbitt had one of her best 5000m races ever, and finished in 7:15.93, but that made it possible for Groves to beat her to the podium when gaining 4.8 second on her team-mate. In the final pair we saw the battle for Van Deutekom to stay ahead of Wüst’s time, and the battle for Groves to make the podium. Both succeeded. Van Deutekom opened fast, built the race the same way as Wüst had done, gaining a bit at the start, and in the final lap, finishing in 7:07.10, which was enough to make the distance podium, as well as to be crowned world champion for the first time, with 162.191 points. Groves stayed behind her until the last lap, and then passed and took silver on the distance with 7:06.22, and with 162.878 points take the bronze medal. Fourth was Nesbitt, fifth Sáblíková, then Anschütz, then Pechstein.

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