Team Jumbo-Visma wins five national titles and clinches 23 World Cup spots

Team Jumbo-Visma wins five national titles and clinches 23 World Cup spots

Team Jumbo-Visma has started the new speed skating season on a high note. The team of coach Jac Orie won five national titles and clinched 23 World Cup spots at the Dutch Single Distances Championships at Thialf, Heerenveen.

In addition to the Dutch titles, those spots for the first World Cup races of the season were the most important things to earn at Thialf this weekend. All the speed skaters, who will miss out on the international competition in the first half of the season will immediately have a huge disadvantage when it comes to getting ready for the Olympic Qualification Tournament, which will be held at the end of this year. That's why for many speed skaters it was way more important to clinch a World Cup spot than to win a medal.

Team Jumbo-Visma did well on both ends. Kai Verbij was the most successful speed skater of the team, with a gold medal in the men's 500- and 1000-meter races. "My tournament went better than I expected, so that's a positive thing," Verbij said. However he still remained critical. "I am very happy with my two Dutch titles, but my form really needs to be better. Especially in the 500-meter race. I want to be able to win by a huge margin. Not by only a few thousandths of a second."

Just like his teammate Verbij, Thomas Krol was able to take home a gold medal. He won the men's 1,500-meter race. He also clinched a World Cup spot in the 1,000m. "I mostly feel relieved," he admitted. "I didn't know what to expect because of my form in recent weeks. I had slight doubts about how good I would be. Fortunately, I was fit at the right time. My races weren't great yet, but I am happy with the form I am in right now. I still have some weeks left to improve."

On Friday, Antoinette de Jong seized gold in the ladies' 1,500-meter race. She claimed World Cup spots in the 1,000 and 3,000m as well. However, she was not really pleased about her 3,000-meter race. "I have to hold back a bit too much, because I have become a bit faster over the last couple of years. In the 1,500m, I can completely use my strength, but that doesn't work in the 3,000m and 5,000m. That’s something I need to improve."

Marathon speed skater Bart Hoolwerf clinched the fifth gold medal for Team Jumbo-Visma. The 23-year-old skater won the Mass Start competition. In a blistering final sprint he was too quick for everyone. "This was a very important victory for me," he said afterwards. "I really wanted to show the fans what I got. That's what I did. I hope this will be enough to get a chance in the World Cups."

Patrick Roest had to be satisfied with three World Cup spots (1,500, 5,000 and 10,000m). He didn't win any titles. That really hurt. "Apparently, this is all I had this weekend. However, I think I have become a better speed skater in the 10,000m, so it might help me to improve in the 5,000m as well. My 1,500-meter race was bad. That race should have gone way better. I am happy I can still use the World Cup races to improve."

Carlijn Achtereekte, reign Olympic champion in the 3,000m, was able to win a bronze medal in the ladies' 3,000 and 5,000-meter races. By doing so, she also clinched two World Cup spots. Although, she wasn't pleased at all. "I secured two World Cup spots and won two bronze medals, but that's about it. For me, there is no reason to be happy. My races didn't go well, so I will be even more motivated for the upcoming races. I want to perform better."

The biggest surprise of the weekend? Development Team speed skater Merijn Scheperkamp. The 21-year-old youngster earned a World Cup spot in the men's 500 and 1,000-meter races. "I am getting closer to the level of the best speed skaters in the world. Something that makes me really proud."

Medals and World Cup spots

Gold (5):
Kai Verbij (500m and 1,000m)
Thomas Krol (1,500m)
Antoinette de Jong (1,500m)
Bart Hoolwerf (Mass Start)

Silver (4):
Dai Dai N’tab (500m)
De Jong (1,500m)
Patrick Roest (5,000m en 10.000m)

Bronze (4):
Krol (1,000m)
Chris Huizinga (1,500m)
Carlijn Achtereekte (3,000m en 5,000m)

World Cup spots (men):
500m: Verbij, N’tab and Merijn Scheperkamp
1,000m: Verbij, Krol and Scheperkamp
1,500m: Krol, Chris Huizinga and Patrick Roest
5,000m: Roest, Marcel Bosker and Sven Kramer
10,000m: Roest, Bosker and Kramer

World Cup spots (women):
500m: -
1,000m: Antoinette de Jong
1,500m: De Jong
3,000m: De Jong, Carlijn Achtereekte and Joy Beune
5,000m: De Jong, Achtereekte and Beune

Article by: Eric Korver

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