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Speed/Short Track Skating - 22. January 2008.

ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships –Heerenveen (NED)

Ladies

Defending champion Anni Friesinger (GER) was perhaps the main favourite, but had to expect competition from her teammate Wolf and a strong Dutch team. The excellent Canadian skaters Cindy Klassen and Christine Nesbitt give priority to the allround championships this year and did not start, and another highly considered favourite, Beixing Wang (CHN), was at a disadvantage her luggage with her skates was delayed in transport.

Jenny Wolf expectedly won the first 500m, but her winning advantage was larger than expected. Her 37.64 was a new rink and championship record, and the fastest 500m time ever on a lowland rink. She was 0.72 ahead of second-placed Annette Gerritsen (NED), a substantial lead already. Compared to other possible contenders such as Marianne Timmer (NED), Chiara Simionato (ITA) and Ireen Wüst (NED), Friesinger’s seventh place in 38.70 also looked promising.

Wüst’s improved long distances, so evident when she won the European Championships in Kolomna, Russia, last week-end, may have hurt her sprinting, but her 1000 m is still good. Paired against Marianne Timmer, she reached 1:15.64 versus 1:16.75, which would prove to be good enough for the second and third places. These times were beaten two pairs later by Friesinger, who ended up winning the 1000m in 1:15.88. The two allrounders Friesinger and Wüst were more than a second ahead of third-placed Timmer. As far as the overall classification went, however, the biggest piece of news was Jenny Wolf’s sixth place, which meant she stayed in the lead after the first day. Among her main rivals, Gerritsen disappointed with an eighth place, and Beixing Wang disappeared from contention with 1:19.10 in 17th place. She withdrew before the second day, her chances destroyed by having to skate on new skates because of the lost luggage debacle.

Halfway, the two German ladies Wolf and Friesinger had built up a lead to their closest competitors, the Dutch trio of Gerritsen, Timmer and Wüst. Wolf was 0.32 ahead of Friesinger, but the distance to Gerritsen in third was already almost a second.

The next day, Jenny Wolf won the 500m again, even improving on her performance from the day before! 37.60 was a rink record, a championship record and the best lowland time ever. Korean Sang-Hwa Lee improved from third place Saturday to second on Sunday, in 38.27, but her 1000m is too weak for her to be a championship threat. Annette Gerritsen was third in 38.44.

Wolf now had a lead of 2.97 seconds on Friesinger going into the last distance, this should normally be sufficient as she had only lost 1,48 the day before, and now would have to lose twice as much for her title to be in danger. A very exciting battle for third place could be expected between Timmer, Gerritsen and Simionato.

Paired against Friesinger in the final race, Wolf managed to hold on and only lost 1.27, finishing in seventh place on the 1000m with 1:17.09. Friesinger’s 1:15.82 was only good enough for second place both overall and on the final distance. Home favourite Ireen Wüst won the distance in 1:15.59. In the final standings, third place went to Annette Gerritsen (NED), who skated much better on the 1000m than the day before and also secured the third place on this distance with 1:15.91. In her fifteenth championship start, Marianne Timmer was fifth, narrowly behind Chiara Simionato (ITA).

This was Jenny Wolf’s first world sprint championship, and it was the first double German podium in the sprint worlds since the GDR double of Christa Rothenburger and Karin Enke-Kania in 1988. Wolf said it was a dream come true, and her strength was partly thanks to increased self-confidence after her world record at the end of last year.

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