Records tumble in Calgary
In a classic battle between speed and stamina, the latter won in the ladies' World Allround Championships at the 1988 Olympic Oval in Calgary, Canada. But it did not come easy. Away from the intriguing battle for gold and silver,? ?Antoinette de Jong took home the bronze medal for the Netherlands.
In the men's competition, ?Patrick Roest? (NED) successfully defended his World Allround title, setting a points world record on his way to golden glory in Calgary, Canada, on Sunday.
The Dutchman’s total of 145.561 points broke the 2006 mark of 145.742 by Shani Davis of the USA. Norway’s? ?Sverre Lunde Pedersen? put up a good fight, but eventually had to settle for silver, while nine-time champion? ?Sven Kramer (NED) took the third World Allround bronze medal of his distinguished career.
Takagi gets it right in the 1500m
Speed-merchant Takagi started the second day with a 2.88-second lead over Sa?bli?kova? in the 1500m, but knew she had to increase that margin if she were to hold off the 5000m world champion over the final distance.
The rivals faced each other in the final pairing of the 1500m, and Takagi quickly powered away from her opponent. The Japanese took one second in the opening 300m, and increased her lead with 0.3 and 0.7 seconds in the first two full laps, but Sa?bli?kova? won back 0.4 seconds in the final lap.
Takagi set up a grandstand finale by winning the matchup, and the distance, in 1:52.08, while Sa?bli?kova? stopped the clock at 1:53.70 to finish fourth overall.
Ireen Wu?st? (NED) and? ?Ivanie Blondin? (CAN) came second and third respectively. The Dutch 1500m world champion had set her sights on the world record in the penultimate pair, where she faced compatriot? ?Antoinette de Jong? (NED).
Wu?st had the fastest 700m split of the field, but soon found out that the world record was a bridge too far, finishing in 1:53.48. In a performance enjoyed by the home crowd, Blondin set a personal best to finish third in 1:53.59.
De Jong crossed the line in 1:53.96 to take fourth place in the distance, allowing her to hold on to third place in the classification.
Another world record for Sa?bli?kova?
Takagi's coach, Johan de Wit (NED), had hoped for a 20-second lead for his skater heading into the 5000m - in the event, they both had to settle for a 14.99-second margin over Sa?bli?kova?.
Skating in the penultimate pairing, with Takagi to follow her on the ice, the 31-year-old four-time champion from the Czech Republic had to set the bar as high as she could - and she did.
Having beaten Cindy Klassen's (CAN) 3000m world record on Saturday, Sa?bli?kova? pressed her way to another world-best time, finishing the 5000m in 6:42.01, trimming her own previous world record of 6:42.66.
"I got special power today from Cindy Klassen," the newly minted world champion said. "She wrote me a message after the 3000m to congratulate me yesterday, and she wished me luck for today."
Takagi tried everything she could in the final race, but soon found out that maintaining a time ahead of Sa?bli?kova?’s, even with a 15-second lead, was not feasible.
"After the 1500m I said to myself ‘it's possible’," last week's runner-up in the World Sprint Championships in Heerenveen said.
"I wanted to skate a Japanese national record (6.55.07), which would have been enough for the title, but it's such a tough tournament... exciting, but super tough.
"After last week's sprint tournament and this week's 500m, 3000m and 1500m, my body was completely empty."
Takagi finished in 7:02.72 for eighth place in the distance and her second silver world championship-medal in eight days.
Isabelle Weidemann? (CAN) took second place in the 5000m in 6:49.68 while? ?Carlijn Achtereekte (NED) came third in 6:50.12.
The Canadian finished sixth in the overall ranking and the Dutch Olympic 3000m champion overtook compatriot Ireen Wu?st to end up fourth in the final classification. Wu?st came seventh in the 5000m in 6:59.80 and fifth in the overall ranking.
De Jong frustrated but satisfied with bronze
Antoinette de Jong finished the 5000m in 6:56.26 to hold on to third place in the overall classification.
"The only 100 meters I skated well this weekend were the last 100 meters of the 500m on Saturday," The European Allround Champion said.
"Everything else was bad. In none of the races did I have the calmness to execute my technique well, I was wasting energy all the time.
"Looking back, I should be happy with a bronze medal, but it's frustrating to know that I could've done better.
"Then again, look how good Sa?bli?kova? skates, and how fast Miho Takagi is in the short distances. I have to be satisfied with this result."
Pedersen sets the early pace in the 1500m
Heading into the second day of the tournament, Patrick Roest held a 0.88-second gap over Sverre Lunde Pedersen in the 1500m.
The two main contenders faced each other in the final pairing and Pedersen made amends for his collapse in the final laps of Saturday's 5000m.
The Norwegian 1500m and 5000m world champion took a small early lead over his Dutch rival to finish in 1:43.11. Roest managed to limit the damage to 0.20 seconds, clocking 1:43.31.
Pedersen and Roest took first and second place in the distance, while Kramer came third in 1:43.87 to hold on to bronze-medal position in the overall ranking too.
The nine-time champion skated in no-man's land, with the two top spots on the podium out of sight and his fourth ranked team-mate? ?Douwe de Vries? (NED) too far behind to realistically challenge for the podium.
“Sometimes the head thinks differently than the legs”
Pedersen had to provide a though target for his Dutch rival in the final event, the always challenging 10000m, where he skated in the penultimate pairing against De Vries.
"It's very hard because I had less than an hour's break between the 1500m and the 10000m," he said.
Despite still feeling the effects of his 1500m efforts, Pedersen skated a balanced race to finish in 12:56.91.
"I tried to skate 30.8 or 30.7 laps, which may have been a bit too slow in the beginning but I managed to keep the lap times pretty flat and I did not have anything left at the end. I was satisfied with the time,” he said.
Team-mates Roest and Kramer faced each other in the final pairing, with the 23-year-old Roest defending a 4.54 gap over Pedersen.
"That's not very much in the 10000m," he said. "Sverre had set a good time and I had to find my rhythm in the beginning."
The title defender was behind Pedersen's schedule in the first eight laps, but went on to skate faster splits to secure his title and win the distance in 12:51.17. Clocking 13:00.93 Kramer finished fourth.
"It was good for me to skate the 10000 with Sven [Kramer],” Roest said. "He had to wake me up. Sometimes the head thinks differently than the legs should do. At some point Sven accelerated and I had to follow."
Home favorite and Olympic Champion Ted-Jan Bloemen (12:53.15) came second in the final distance, behind Roest and three seconds ahead of Pedersen. The Canadian ended up fifth in the final ranking, while Kramer took bronze overall.
"That's nice, but of course it’s not what I came for," the nine-time champion said.
"I could see this coming after I blew my 500m yesterday. The rest of the tournament was good, but it's not consistent enough. That reflects my whole season.
"I have to get rid of that inconsistency and that's something to work on for next season."