By Emilie Medland-Marchen, March 12 2015 —
The ice was fast and the athletes were at their best in a world class speed skating event held on campus last weekend.
The 2015 world all round speed skating championships took place at the Calgary Olympic Oval, which played host to the 48-top international male and female speed skaters.
Fans from around the world packed into the Oval to watch the best compete, and the energy in the venue was astounding.
Speed skating in the Netherlands has a large fanbase resembling that of professional sports like hockey in Canada. The cheers from Dutch, Norwegian, Polish and Czech fans echoed over the 400m track, adding to the energy of the skaters.
Canadian national team athletes Denny Morrison and Ted-Jan Bloemen competed in the men’s division, which included 500m, 1,500m, 5km and 10km races. Morrison posted impressive results, including a win in the 500m. He skated to a finishing time of 34.98, nearly one second ahead of second place.
Bloemen’s strength as a long-distance skater shone through in the 5km, placing eighth in the race. In the overall standings, Morrison placed seventh and Bloemen 16th.
In the women’s category, Calgary skaters Kali Christ and Ivanie Blondin raced to competitive placements. On Saturday, Christ skated to a silver medal in the 500m with a time of 38.67. She also set a personal record in her fourth-place finish in the 1,500m on Sunday.
Blondin also set a personal best time in the 3km, skating a 4:04.03 and placing sixth in the race. The two went head-to-head in the women’s 5km, where Blondin’s strength as a distance skater resulted in a fifth-place finish.
In the overall results, the Canadian women’s strong finishes placed them sixth and eighth.
Dutch superstar Sven Kramer dominated the distance events by winning the 5km and 10km races, placing first overall, defending his title as the fastest skater in the world.
Kramer’s wins were met by loud cheers from the “sea of orange” that made up the majority of fans.
Czech skater Martina Sablikova took the women’s golden title with wins in the 3km and 5km. She won the 5km by over 12 seconds. Sablikova came only two seconds away from setting a new world record in the 3km. The current record has been held by Canada’s Cindy Klassen since 2006.
Sablikova currently holds world records in both the 5km and 10km events. Her strength as a distance skater showed this weekend thanks to her impeccable technique and stamina.
The last time the Olympic Oval hosted the all round speed skating championships was in 2011. Since then the Oval has remained a top-tier facility for speed skating.
The Oval was built in 1988 for the Calgary Winter Olympics, and has been dubbed “the fastest ice in the world.” This title was defended this weekend as skaters came close to setting new world records.
The last speed skating competition of the year, the Olympic Oval Finale, takes place March 19–22 at the Oval. Entry is free to the public.