04 Feb 2023 at 21:11
All attention went to the ‘classic’ between world champion Thomas Krol and Olympic champion Kjeld Nuis, but Patrick Roest took the Dutch title in the 1,500 meters on Saturday. Roest would like to repeat that stunt at the World Cup, only he may have to hand in his starting spot due to a luxury problem.
When Nuis encounters Roest on the ice of Thialf shortly after his 1,500 meters, he only has one word for his teammate at Reggeborgh. “I called him an asshole,” says Nuis with a big smile. “I really meant that. But I said it mainly out of admiration.”
The 27-year-old Roest mainly focuses on the 5 and 10 kilometers, while Nuis is a real specialist in the 1,500 meters. Nevertheless, the two-time Olympic champion was clearly defeated at ‘his’ distance on Saturday. This was mainly because Roest set up a schedule that would make skating enthusiasts’ mouths water. With lap times of 26.3, 26.7 and 27.0 seconds, the all-rounder drove an unprecedented flat race.
“Seven tenths of a drop between the first and last lap is absurd. He actually did a warm-up in the first 300 meters and then really started racing. Really very clever,” says Nuis. Smiling: “One day Patrick will skate a 1,500 meter in which his lap times will get faster and faster.”
The chances of that ever happening are, of course, minimal. Roest actually thought that his first lap was too slow. “I started too cautious, because I was afraid that I would get into trouble at the first intersection against my opponent Wesly Dijs. In the end, that made for a very nice race, for me and the public. This schedule looks very nice indeed on paper. And it proves that my form is very good.”
Roest is fed up with the schedule of World Cup distances
That top form should give Roest his first individual title(s) at the World Championship distances in a month. After his race on Saturday, he also seems to be an outsider for gold in the 1,500 meters, but there is a good chance that the Lekkerkerker will have to skip the skating mile.
This is due to the schedule of this winter’s most important tournament: the 1,500 meters is scheduled by the international skating union ISU on the same day as the 10 kilometers. There is barely an hour and a half between the two races, making it virtually impossible to combine the two distances.
“I know the World Cup schedule and that doesn’t look good to me,” says Roest with a faint smile. “It’s a pity that the ISU came up with it that way. I’m probably being forced to make a choice that I don’t really want to make.”
The three-time all-round world champion still has to qualify for the 10 kilometers at the NK on Sunday, although that should normally not be a problem. Roest has been one of the best skaters at the longest distance for years. He therefore attributes himself more chances to a world title in the 10,000 than in the 1,500 meters.
“It’s not an easy estimate in advance, especially after my race today,” says Roest. “But on the 10 kilometers I have more often shown that I belong to the world top than on the 1,500 meters. What I certainly don’t want is to make the choice to ride both distances and that it is just nothing twice. Then I prefer to drive one distance that goes really well.”
The 10 kilometers for men at the NK, with Roest as the top favourite, starts on Sunday at 12.45 p.m. It is the first distance on the final day of the national championships. This is followed by the 5,000 meters for women, the 1,000 meters for men and women and the mass start for men and women.
Krol finally beats Nuis once at 1,500 meters
Afterwards it turned out to be a battle for silver, but Thomas Krol and Kjeld Nuis again provided a special ride in the 1,500 meters. There was even a first in Thialf, because Krol managed to beat Nuis for the first time in a mutual duel on the skating mile.
“I had already succeeded a few times on the 1,000 meters, but not yet on the 1,500 meters,” says Krol with a smile. “That made this a special race. We were very evenly matched as always, it was a fight to the last meter. I think the public was the biggest winner.”
Nuis also enjoyed the duel with Krol, although he was especially disappointed that he could ‘only’ take home the bronze afterwards. “I drove really well for the first 900 meters, but then I made a mistake at the junction by entering the inside corner too late. There I lost all my speed and the chance to win today.”
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