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Reign Olympic champions Carlijn Achtereekte and Sven Kramer both took a silver medal on the first day of the ISU World Single Distances Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City. Thomas Krol seized gold in the men's Team Sprint.
Achtereekte won a silver medal in the ladies' 3000-meter race. The 30-year-old speed skater of Team Jumbo-Visma was the first of the favorites to step onto the ice at the Utah Olympic Oval on Thursday. She skated almost three seconds under her personal best to set a high bar for the rest of the field: 3:54.92. Only world champion Martina Sáblíková succeeded to beat Achtereekte's time, crossing the line in 3:54.25. Natalia Voronina took bronze in 3:55,54.
"I am very happy with this result", Achtereekte said. "In one week, I beat my personal best by more than 2.5 seconds. For me, this was a very good race. The first six laps went really well. My final lap could have gone better, but I am so happy with my time and my silver medal. I gave everything I had.
"The entire race I stayed calm and did what I had to do. At the beginning of the season, I won two silver medals at the ISU World Cup. After that I had some trouble finding my form, so I am really satisfied I was able to come up with this result today.”
Later on Thursday, Kramer managed to win a silver medal in the men’s 5,000-meter race. The 33-year-old speed skater of Team Jumbo-Visma was the first of the favorites to enter the rink, in the third pair of the 5000m. After a good race, he set a time of 6:04.91. Ted-Jan Bloemen won his first ever world title: 6:04.37. Graeme Fish seized bronze in 6:06.32.
Kramer had mixed feelings about his silver medal, which arrived after an injury-hampered first half of the season. "On the one hand I'm gutted, because I always skate to win", he said. "But on the other I'm proud to have been able to pull this off, regarding the first half of the season."
Before Thursday, Roest had won all the races at 5,000 meter this season, but he was not able to continue that streak. The 24-year-old speed skater finished fourth fastest, but was disqualified soon afterwards for not wearing the white armband to indicate his inner-lane start.
"Fourth place or a disqualification, that doesn't make any difference," the disappointed Dutchman said. "I came here to win and I failed. The legs are not what they are supposed to be."
The Dutch took gold in the men’s Team Sprint on Thursday. Canada skated the fastest time in 1:17.63, but Gilmore Junio, Laurent Dubreuil and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu were disqualified for an illegal changeup. Dutch skaters Krol, Dai Dai Ntab and Kai Verbij set a time of 1:18.18.
"It feels a bit like a stolen victory", Krol said. "We have congratulated them for a great race. They were the best today, but they did not do it according to the rules, so the disqualification is just."