With the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing only a month away, the European Speed Skating elite settles down in Heerenveen for the ISU European Speed Skating Championships on 7-9 January. After last season’s combined European Sprint and Allround Championships, the tournament will be held in single distance format this year. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the event will be held without spectators.
At last season’s Sprint and Allround Championships, the Netherlands took four out of four titles with Jutta Leerdam, Antoinette de Jong, Thomas Krol and Patrick Roest winning the men’s and women’s Sprint and Allround titles. In the single distance championships, there’s a total of 14 titles up for grabs.
The Netherlands collected most silverware since the inaugural ISU European Single Distances Championships in Kolomna (Russia) in 2018. Russia leads the men’s medal table (6G, 5S, 5B), ahead of the Netherlands (6G, 5S, 4B) and Italy (1G, 1S), while the Netherlands top the women’s table (8G, 3S, 3B), with Russia (4G, 7S, 4B) in second and Austria (1G, 2S, 1B) in third.
Russian participation in jeopardy
Pavel Kulizhnikov (5G, 1B) and Olga Fatkulina (3G) lead the men’s and women’s individual medal rankings. Kulizhnikov will not skate in Heerenveen this weekend. The Russian Skating Union announced on Twitter: “In order not to risk the health of athletes before the Olympic Games in Beijing, it was decided that Pavel Kulizhnikov, Ruslan Murashov, Viktor Mushtakov and Artem Arefyev would not take part in the European Championships.” Due to positive Covid-19 tests upon arrival in the Netherlands, according to the Russian Skating Union the participation of the other Russian skaters is uncertain.
Schouten aims at four titles
For many Skaters the European Single Distance Championships will be a dress rehearsal for Beijing 2022, and for others it’s an opportunity to wash away the disappointment of missing out on their Olympic qualification.
Defending European Mass Start Champion Irene Schouten (NED) did qualify for Beijing 2022 in four disciplines (3000m, 5000m, Mass Start and Team Pursuit), and she will skate the first three events at the European Championships too. After a superb first half of the World Cup season, in which the 29-year-old won all three long distance races she skated convincingly, Schouten seems unstoppable.
Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA), who won the Mass Start and 3000m gold at the World Cup in Calgary on 10 December 2021, is one of Schouten’s main rivals. Six-time European Allround champion and veteran long distance specialist Martina Sáblíková (CZE) is absent due to a thigh injury she suffered in training last week.
Friday, January 7, 2022: Team Sprint Women, Team Pursuit Men, 3000m Women, 1000m Men
Saturday, January 8, 2022: Team Sprint Men, 500m Women, 5000m, Men 1500m Women
Sunday, January 9, 2022: Team Pursuit Women, 1500m Men, 1000m Women, 500m Men, Mass Start Women & Men.
Photo : isu.org
Website : isu.org