What if we’ve been doing team pursuit all wrong since the beginning? ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


30 janvier 2021

What if we’ve been doing team pursuit all wrong since the beginning?

Photo: AP photo / Peter Dejong

New team pursuit strategies are emerging this season on the ISU World Cup circuit and impressive results are coming out of it. Have we been skating the team pursuit the wrong way for more than 15 years? 

By Jackob Savard

While the stands at the speed skating mecca in Heerenveen were empty, nearly two million Dutch people were in front of their televisions last Friday to watch Norway and Canada triumph in the team pursuit at the second World Cup of the season. Aside from the defeat of the home teams, it was the strategies employed by the winners that caught the attention. 

Limited exchanges

On the ladies' side, Ivanie Blondin, Valérie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann tested a new approach that had been thought out by their coach the day before. To limit the loss of time during the exchanges, the Canadians made only two changes instead of the usual five. After Maltais and Blondin each skated a lap, Weidemann took the final four laps to lead the team to gold and a new track record in Thialf. They beat the fierce Dutch team of Ireen Wust, Irene Schouten and Antoinette de Jong by half a second.

No exchanges

The Norwegians, meanwhile, let young Allan Dahl Johansson pull all the laps in the men's pursuit. His two teammates pushed him from start to finish. The result: a stunning victory, a new track record and a very tired skater.  

It will be interesting to see if other nations, including the Netherlands, will try this strategy at World championships next weekend. Are strategies that limit exchanges the future of this event? 

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