An open air record on the first day of the European Championships

Collalbo, 11 January 2019 - The Allround Speed Skating European Championships at the Renon ice rink began on Friday with a new open air record.
Defending champion and sprint world champion Kai Verbij mastered the 1000 meters in 1.08,97 minutes and remained 29/100 seconds behind the almost 13 years old record of US American Shani Davis. After half the events, Verbij, who also achieved the fastest time over 500 metres (35.23), is leading the overall rankings. After two out of four races Antoinette de Jong (Netherlands) is well placed to win the European Championship title in the women's allround.
On the first of three days of competition at the Arena Ritten, Europe's best ice speed runners kept the best back until the last race, the men’s 1000 metres sprint combination. Initially, Dutch defending champion and sprint world champion Kai Verbij stayed at 1.08,97, below the 1.09,26 minutes mark set by Shani Davis (USA) in Collalbo in 2006. A few minutes later followed the next big bang, when two times Dutch Olympic champion (1000 and 1500 meters) Kjeld Nuis completed the two and a half laps even faster, in 1.08,37 minutes, but was disqualified shortly after because of a crossing of the boundary line.
In the afternoon there had been a very close race between the Netherlands and Norway in the sprint 500 meters. Verbij also saw off the competition over the shortest distance in 35.23 seconds. Henrik Fagerli Rukke (NOR/+0.13), Kjeld Nuis (+0.24) and Havard Holmefjord Lorentzen (NOR/+0.35) followed.
Thanks to his two stage victories and a total score of 69.715 points, Verbij has put himself in a good starting position for the second day of competition on Saturday, when the sprinters will once again start over 500 and 1000 metres. Lorentzen (70,520) and Rukke (70,645) achieved second and third place respectively.
De Jong reaches out for European Championship gold
The women also had two races on their programme today. They count towards the allround, which for the women speed skaters consists of the results over 500m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m. At half time and after the races over 500 and 3000 meters, Antoinette de Jong from the Netherlands leads with 80,535 points. The 23 year-old set the fastest time both over 500 meters (39.19 seconds) and 3000 meters (4.08.07 minutes).
For the Italians there is good news before the 1500 and 5000 meter races on Saturday, because Francesca Lollobrigida is in a sensational second place with 81.440 points. The 27-year-old athlete from Rome came third in both distances on the first days of competition. In the 500 meter race Lollobrigida even achieved a new personal best time of 39.56 seconds - and that on an outdoor track. Third place in the allround overall rankings went to Ireen Wüst (NED/82,155), the most successful Olympic athlete in the Netherlands, immediately ahead of Martina Sablikova from the Czech Republic (82,320). Sablikova, who often trains on Renon, had finished the 3000 meters in second place (4.08,23).
Opening ceremony
The Speed Skating European Championships were formally opened at midday. ISU representatives Roland Maillard, South Tyrol's representative in the EU Parliament Herbert Dorfmann and the mayor of the municipality of Renon, Paul Lintner, spoke in front of over 80 athletes from 14 different countries who will be taking part in the competitions in Collalbo until Sunday.
On Saturday the European Championships continue with Day 2. The competitions start at 11:05 am. During the afternoon the first two European Championship titles are up for grabs: the allround for the women (1:47 pm) and the sprint combination for the men (3:05 pm). On Sunday, 13 January the races will begin at 12:30 pm, when the new female European Champion in the allround and the new male European Champion in the combined discipline are determined.
Speed Skating European Championships in Collalbo on Renon (11. – 13.1.2019) - Remaining programme
12.01.2019 from 11:05 am: Competition Day 2
Women - Allround 1,500 m
Men - Sprint 500 m
Women - Sprint 500 m
Men - Allround 500 m
Women - Allround 5,000 m
Women - Sprint 1,000 m
Men - Sprint 1,000 m
Men - Allround 5,000 m
13.01.2019 from 12:30 pm: Competition Day 3
Women - Sprint 500 m
Men - Allround 1,500 m
Women - Sprint 1,000 m
Men - Allround 10,000 m
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