2nd day in Ascoli: new races, new falls, new surprises, new medals!
Finals started once the beautiful sun had disappeared, in front of a large audience among which members of the Olympic committee !
Short-distance races : ultra-domination of Colombia !
Colombians let almost no chances to anyone else that Sunday in Ascoli. Indeed, the South American country got three out of the four possible titles, always with much grace and manner!
Junior - 1000m : Colombia 2- Rest of the world : 0 !
On the starting line of the Junior ladies final, they were two Italians (with Sofia D’annibale and Carlotta Simbula), two Colombians (with Magda Graces and Yesenia Escobar), two Chinese Taipei (with Yi Hsuan Liu and Ying Jung Kuan), one German (with Katharina Rumpus) and one South Korean (with Ga Ram Yu). That means three teams of two teammates! The final would necessarily be very strategic, and that is what actually happened. Indeed, after a very slow start, the ladies decided to speed up progressively. The race actually really started 2 laps to the arrival, while Colombians kept making sure that they mastered the situation. While the pack was ready to sprint for the final lap, exactly when the judge shook the dong, Ga Ram Yu badly fell in the inside of the track losing her chances of medals. There were therefore three teams and one lonely German who did her job since Katharina Rumpus managed to become vice world champion in that race, offering to Germany its first medal of the championship. Colombian skater, Magda Garces, crossed the line in first position with a time of 1.40.321, and Italian athlete, Sofia D’Annibale, completed the podium.
The composition of the Junior men final differed quite a bit from the ladies’final. Only Colombia (with Andres Jimenez and Andres Campo) and China Taipei (with Tsu Cheng Chao end Tsu Nan Lin) had two representatives on the starting line. The other nations present were Swiss (with Livio Wenger), Italy (with Alessio Pacciola), the USA (with Mario Valencia) and South Korea (with Min Su Kim). While their race started a bit faster than the ladies’, Livio Wenger decided to lead the back from the beginning of the race, probably dreaming of a gold medal and hoping that his incredible strength would allow him to stay ahead the whole race long. Unfortunately for him, Colombian skater, Andres Jimenez, passed him in the very last corner, bringing one more title to his country and racing his 1000M in a time of 1.28.056. Swiss skater became vice world champion for the second time in two days, whereas USA got its first medal of the championship thanks to Mario Valencia’s performance.
Senior – 500m : Colombia 1 – South Korea 1
What a race! Four ladies were ready to fight for the gold on the starting line: Colombian star, Cecilia Baena, South Korean world champion on the 300M on Saturday, An Yi Seul, and two Italians willing to do their best in front of their public, Erika Zanetti and Giulia Bongiorno. The four girls were very nervous and fought a lot until the last corner where Cecilia Baena grabbed Erika Zanetti in front of the judges. Whereas the Korean girl was 3rd in the last corner, just behind Zanetti and Baena, she benefited from the altercation between the two first ladies, crossing the line in first position, with a time of 44.478, whereas the title should have probably been for Zanetti if Baena had not grabbed her. As a matter of consequences, Zanetti, extremely angry, pushed Baena in the corner just after the arrival line, and Baena was disqualified a few minutes later.
Senior men: Colombia, again and again!
That final was a very impressive one, interestingly similar to the final in Yeosu last year, where two Columbians had disputed their final against a French skater plus another athlete. This year, the two Columbians were the same (Pedro Causil and Andres Munoz), but the French athlete was different (Gwendal Le Pivert instead of Nicolas Pelloquin), and the other athlete was a German (Mathias Schwiertz). The scenario of the race was however not the same as the one in Yeosu, where Columbians had been controlling the race from the start to the end. In Italy, French skater was quite dangerous and even managed to threaten the Columbians several times. He kept attacking doing his best to try to get at least the silver medal. He failed in his attempt and got the bronze medal, just before the German, and after the two Columbians. The gold medal was taken by Andres Munoz with a time of 41.130.
Long distance races: Colombia 2 – Italy 2
Juniors – 15K eliminations race: Colombians at the top level again!
In the ladies race, the skaters stayed in a big pack during almost all the race, fighting one against each other in order to escape from the elimination every other lap. The growing nervousness of the skaters could be felt from the outside of the track when, just before the last elimination, fours skaters fell down. Some of them could not get up by themselves, and the jury could not stop the race, taking into consideration that there were only two laps to go. There were only four skaters still in the race at that moment: Natalia Giraldo (Colombia), Giulia Lolobrigida (Italy), Ga Ram Yu (South Korea), and Darian O’Neil (USA). For security reasons, the judges decided to neutralize the race for about three laps. What a crazy moment! The spectators were impatient to know about the way things would end up under these specific circumstances. Everybody was standing up… And when the judges allow the girls to start their sprint, the four skaters left became lions, ready to fight for the gold! While the American got distanced one lap from the arrival, the three other girls fought until the very end. The gold went to Natalia Giraldo, the silver to Giulia Lolobrigida and the bronze to Ga Ram Yu. The time of the race was 25 minutes and 11 seconds which does not really mean anything since the race was neutralized.
The Junior men race was also punctuated by a few falls, notably one with a Japanese and an Argentine just four laps after the beginning, but one with only two skaters, right in the middle of the pack, who both were French! It must be mentioned the very kindness of the public who always applauses when skaters get back on their legs after a fall. Anyway, the race went quite normally, always with tensions each time someone was going to be eliminated. After a few more individual falls and all the elimination, there were five skaters left for the final sprint. Among them: two Columbians (Boris Pena and Manuel Saavedra), one American (Mario Valencia), one South Korean (Sang Cheol Lee), and one Chilean (Hugo Ramirez). In other words, there were no Europeans at all! In the final lap, whereas the American had been distanced, three people were really fighting for the podium, considering that the Chilean was a bit behind.
But, that was without taking into consideration a potential fall that could happen at the last second. And that is what happened since one of the two Colombians, Manuel Saavedra, fell two meters before the arrival line, allowing the Chilean to get a bronze medal. The fall of Manuel Saavedra did not prevent his compatriot, Boris Pena, to become world champion (in 24 minutes 065) just before the South Korean, Sang Cheol Lee.
Seniors - 10K points and eliminations race: Italy takes its revenge!
The senior ladies race was animated by the local, Francesca Lolobrigida, who did an amazing race, accumulating a total amount of 19 points. The Italian was probably stimulated by her fans, who were very many at the track, encouraging her loudly! She logically took the gold, before Ho Chen Yang from China Taipei (12 points) and Hyo Sook Woo from South Korea (8 points. The performance of Guo Dan must be underlined since the Chinese finished 4th, missing the bronze medal while having as many points as the 3rd.
In the senior men races, it was very difficult to guess at the beginning of the race who would win the gold considering that many skaters had the potential to win that night. The favorites such as Fabio Francolini (Italy), Bart Swings (Belgium), Ewen Fernandez (France), Yan Cheng Chen (China Taipei) and Peter Michael (New-Zealand) fought for the points one after the others. The Italian and the French were helped by their teammates (Lorenzo Cassioli for Italy and Alexis Contin for France). Fabio Francolini got his gold medal in the very last laps and Ewen Fernandez lost the bronze also in the very last lap against a Peter Michael in an incredible shape. Despite a reclamation of Belgium against Italy at the end of the race, Fabio Francolini kept his title, with 13 points. Bart Swings became got the silver medal with the same amount of points, but crossed the arrival line after the Italian.
What a great night for Italy in the Senior category! That’s an amazing revenge for Francesca Lolobrigida and Fabio Francolini, who both had taken the silver medal the night before. Both Italians are becoming the star of the championship.
Statistics of the day
Short distances : 1000m (Juniors), 500m (Seniors)
Brief comments on short distances medals
Colombia confirmed its performance and its domination of the first day in Ascoli Piceno, getting four medals again on Sunday. Colombia did even better actually, since it won three out of four titles! The fourth one was won by South Korea, the other great performer of this championship so far. Italy did quite good, too, winning three medals in total. European skaters (included Italy) succeeded in winning two more medals than the first day, putting two skaters on two out of the four podiums.
Long distances : 15K eliminations (Juniors), 10K points and eliminations (Seniors)
Brief comments on long distances medals
Colombia and Italy got two titles each, but Italy also got one silver medal whereas Colombia did not get any other medals. That Sunday night, Italian skaters offered a great spectacle to their very demanding public! Belgium is the only other European country having been able to get another medal. South Korea got three medals. China Taipei, Chile and New-Zealand got one medal each.
Useful linksBy Léa Réguer-Petit
Photos : Daniel Busser