Sablikova, Bloemen win world speedskating titles

KEARNS, Utah (AP) — Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic and Ted-Jan Bloemen of Canada won individual gold medals Thursday on the first day of the ISU World Single Distances Speedskating Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval.

The Netherlands set a world record in women’s team sprint, finishing in 1:24.02. The previous record was 1:24.84, set by Russia in 2017.

Bloemen claimed gold in the men’s 5,000 meters with a time of 6:04.37. Sven Kramer of the Netherlands took silver with a time of 6:04.91. Graeme Fish of Canada earned bronze, finishing in 6:06.32.

It was the first world title for Bloemen, a rising star who won gold in the 10,000 meters at the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018 and took silver in the 5,000.

“Going into the season, I made this race really important for myself,” Bloemen said. “Working toward the Olympics in two years is so far away, so you’ve got to set goals along the way. This oval for me is really special. I skated two world records here and I thought that might be a possibility again today.”

Sablikova finished in 3:54.25 to win the women’s 3000 meters. She edged Carlijn Achtereekte of the Netherlands, who claimed silver with a personal-best time of 3:54.92. Natalia Voronina of Russia took bronze, finishing in 3:55.54.

Sablikova, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, won a world championship in Utah for the second time. She won gold in the 3,000 and 5,000 at the 2007 World Championships.

“In two years, nobody knows what is going to happen,” Sablikova said. “But I’m enjoying this moment and this medal. Now I can think about the Winter Olympics.”

Mia Kilburg-Manganello was the lone American competing Thursday. Kilburg-Manganello finished 16th among 20 competitors in the 3,000 with a time of 4:05.83, her fastest in three years.

Kilburg-Manganello has her sights set on competing in the 2022 Beijing Games. She won bronze in Pyeongchang in team pursuit alongside Heather Bergsma and Brittany Bowe.

Kilburg-Manganello has been working to improve her endurance and run a flatter, steadier race in the 3,000.

“For me, right now, it’s more about the way the race is skated and if I skate how I’ve been training, I hope to race a race (where) it will come out with a successful time,” Kilburg-Manganello said. “Like today, I’m not winning or on the podium. But for the fastest race in three years, it’s a win for sure.”

Netherlands won the men’s team sprint with China placing second and Norway taking third. In the women’s team sprint, Russia and Poland finished second and third, respectively.

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