Supreme they are, towards the World Cup distances. Femke Kok scores four out of four on the 500 meter, Thomas Krol impresses the 1,000 and 1,500 meters time after time. And on the five kilometers Patrick Roest pushes a border by diving twice under his old track record in Heerenveen.
This promises something for the final and most important skating tournament of winter: the World Championships in two weeks (11 to 14 February) in Thialf.
First World Champion in the 500 meters?
Kok can be the first Dutch world champion in the 500 metres in the history of the World Cup, which have been held since 1996. She is only 20 years old, but two World Cup weekends in a row she has proved unbeatable and an improvement in the Dutch record is getting closer.
With each victory, expectations also increase. “I try to deal with it as best as I can, but it is difficult,” recognizes Kok. “A lot of people expect me to win every time, but its not that easy. Its very difficult.”
See below the reaction and two victories of Femke Kok last weekend.
As dominant as Kok was on the 500 meters, so the American Brittany Bowe ruled in the World Cup on the 1,000 and 1,500 meters. She was at the start four times, she won four times. Jutta Leerdam, the reigning world champion on the kilometer and the European champion sprint, faces a challenge.
Thick and purple
Not least because Leerdam is struggling with an injury to her foot, sustained by a “small accident” in the hotel. “I walked to a table and looked ahead, but there was a crate that I did not see. I stepped in and my foot turned. At first, I thought, its okay. But it became thick and purple.”
Leerdam appeared to have bruised her foot, but was able to resume training with a somewhat fat foot on Sunday. “Im going to do everything I can to make sure it recovers as soon as possible. And if not, Ill still drive, but in pain. I didnt train this hard all year and leave everything to make this affect now.”
Skipping a World Cup doesnt even suit Leerdam that bad, even though reason is far from ideal. “I drive a lot of competitions. Somewhere I was thinking, I need to take a little slow this weekend. Everyone said: maybe this is a sign so you can get a little braked.”
Learned from last year
Drive so much and win so much before the World Cup distances that it wont succeed at that World Cup anymore. Leerdam wants to prevent it, Patrick Roest has happened to it for two years in a row. He usually reigns on long distances, but never picked individual World Cup gold.
It was the reason for him to skip the shift chase this weekend. “Last year I sometimes drove too much, which made me tired in the course of the races. I learned from that. I wanted to get a good feeling, to race and to get out of the World Cup.”
See below the reaction and victory of Patrick Roest over the five kilometers.
Roest must have that nice feeling, because a week after his fabulous track record of 6.05.14 he rushed back to a top time on the five kilometers on Sunday: 6.05.95. “I dont feel a hundred percent yet and I am confident that things can be better.”
Van der Poel Challenger Roest
Rust might have to be, because after Sverre Lunde Pedersen in 2019 and Ted-Jan Bloemen in 2020, the Swede Nils van der Poel wants to be the third to keep Roest from the world title on the five kilometers.
Van der Poel impressed at the European Championships all-round on the ten kilometers, but had to earn his ticket for the ten kilometers at the World Cup. He had to dive under the 6.09,21 of the Norwegian Hallgair Engebraten and succeeded flawlessly. With his 6.08,39, the fourth time ever in Thialf, Van der Poel is immediately a contender for the World Cup title.
Is that his goal, too? “Im going to be as fast as I can. I have influence on that.” The ten kilometers is the most important thing to him. “For me, the five kilometers is no more than half a ten kilometers.”
Rust: “Van der Poel continues to amaze people and me too. Every game, hes a lot faster. I hope I can put a little extra on it, otherwise he can make it difficult for me.”