THE HAGUE, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- World men's 500m record holder Pavel Kulizhnikov shook off a disappointing opening race at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup last weekend and claimed gold in the first race on Saturday at the second and last stop of the 2020-21 season in Heerenveen, the Netherlands.
Kulizhnikov, returning to Division A after her crash in the first race at the previous stop, managed a strong comeback in 34.475 seconds.
"I feel good, but we did not skate many races eventually, so I lack rhythm," said the Russian, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 last December. "I'm not at my top level yet, but it's gradually getting better."
Canadian Laurent Dubreuil finished second with a 0.04-second deficit. Dai Dai N'tab of the Netherlands and Artem Arefyev of Russia shared third place in 34.588.
Femke Kok of the Netherlands, who took two golds in two women's 500m races a week ago, firmly established herself as a promising star with her third victory in the distance in 37.233 seconds. Track record holder Angelina Golikova of Russia, on the other hand, had to settle for her third silver 0.05 seconds slower.
"I'm not sure whether this is my peak form," 20-year-old Kok said. "I hope not, because I want to be better at the World Championships."
Two-time European champion Vanessa Herzog of Austria, sharing the same experience with Kulizhnikov, finally stepped on the podium with a bronze.
Elsewhere, Dutch skaters repeated their medal sweep in the men's 1,500m with Thomas Krol claiming back-to-back titles in 1:43.428. Kjeld Nuis and Patrick Roest switched positions, finishing second and third respectively this time.
Brittany Bowe of the United States defended her women's 1,500m World Cup title with a better result of 1:53.455, edging Dutch elites Antoinette de Jong and Ireen Wust.
"The time doesn't lie," said Bowe. "I could tell I pushed myself harder than last week, Antoinette (De Jong) going before me. She had an awesome 300m first split and all three of the splits I saw of her were faster than I did last week, so I knew I had to put the paddle down and go for it."
Irene Schouten of the Netherlands (8:21.750) edged Ivanie Blondin of Canda (8:21.770) in the final sprint for back-to-back wins in women's mass start.
Her compatriot Jorrit Bergsma was mainly in a competition of his own in the men's mass start, securing a huge lead in front of the bunch that he had enough time to celebrate even before crossing the line in 7:43.470.
Sunday will be the last matchday of the World Cup this season with men's and women's 500m, 1,000m, and long distance medals at stake. Enditem