The Sportforum Hohenschönhausen in Berlin is the destination for the fourth weekend of this season’s ISU Speed Skating World Cup.
The series—which is in a shortened format this season due to the Winter Olympics—is made up of six events, with each competition taking place in a different city.
Calgary played host to the opening weekend of action Nov. 8-10, before the tour stopped off in Salt Lake City and then Astana. Berlin takes the baton this weekend (Dec. 7-9), and will be the final World Cup event before the skaters head to Sochi for the sport’s crown jewel in February.
The World Cup series will come to a close after the Olympics in Russia, with Inzell (Mar. 7-9) and Heerenveen (Mar. 14-16) remaining on the calendar.
There has been plenty of drama in the opening three weekends of action, with two new world records being set in Calgary and a further four in Salt Lake City.
Lee Sang-Hwa of South Korea was responsible for three of those records—per the AFP via Yahoo.
Lee broke the women’s 500-metre record in Calgary with a time of 36.74, before topping it twice in Utah with times of 36.57 and 36.36.
The Dutch men’s team pursuit achieved a similar feat when they posted a world-record 3:37.17 in the opening weekend, before breaking it again at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Oval with a time of 3:35.60.
America’s Brittany Bowe was another of those to send a world-record crashing at her home event:
Berlin, which is at a lower altitude than both Salt Lake City and Calgary, will not likely see many records fall, but it represents an important stop in the World Cup series.
There will be five events in total—500 metres, 1,000 metres, 1,500 metres, 3,000 metres and the Team Pursuit—for both the men and women. Each event, besides the TP, will be split into categories A and B, with the higher-ranked skaters making up the former.
With plenty of points to play for ahead of the penultimate event in Inzell, here’s a look at this weekend’s schedule in Berlin.
|Friday, Dec. 6||Saturday, Dec. 7||Sunday, Dec. 8|
|8:50 a.m. GMT - 1st 500 Ladies Div. B||8 a.m. GMT - 2nd 500 Ladies Div. B||8:10 a.m. GMT - 500 Men Div. B|
|9:44 a.m. GMT - 1st 500 Men Div. B||8:54 a.m. GMT - 1,000 Men Div. B||9:03 a.m. GMT - 1,000 Ladies Div. B|
|10:38 a.m. GMT - 3,000 Ladies Div. B||9 a.m. GMT - Ladies Div. B||10:07 a.m. GMT - 500 Men Div. B|
|11:52 a.m. GMT - 1,500 Men Div. B||noon GMT - 2nd 500 Ladies Div. A||12:50 p.m. GMT - 2nd 500 Men Div. A|
|1:50 p.m. GMT - 1st 500 Men Div. A||12:41 p.m. GMT - 1,000 Men Div. A||1:32 p.m. GMT - 1,000 Ladies Div. A|
|2:15 p.m. GMT - 1st 500 Ladies Div. A||1:29 p.m. GMT - 1,500 Ladies Div. A||2:14 p.m. GMT - 5,000 Men Div. A|
|3 p.m. GMT - 3,000 Ladies Div. A||2:30 p.m. GMT - Team Pursuit Men||3:48 p.m. GMT - Team Pursuit Ladies|
|4:04 p.m. GMT - 1,500 Men Div. A|
Schedule via ISU.org
What to Watch for This Weekend
Three competitors arrive in Berlin with a 100 percent record after the opening three events.
The aforementioned Lee, who is considered the finest female sprinter in the world, is one of those. She has dominated the 500-metre class with three wins from three, and sits atop the leaderboard with 600 points.
Shani Davis kept up his unbeaten run in the men’s 1,000 metres in Astana, and will once more be the favourite in the middle-distance event. The American will be pushed all the way by Dutchmen Kjeld Nuis and Michel Mulder, however, who lie second and third.
The third and final dominant skater is Sven Kramer of the Netherlands. The reigning Olympic gold medallist has won every World Cup event over 5,000 metres this year and will be odds-on to top the podium in Germany once more.