Sven Kramer celebrated his good time on the 5 kilometer Friday at the Dutch distances in Thialf with a finger on his mouth. With his second place behind Patrick Roest, the twenty-time Dutch distance champion proved that he can still participate in the world top.
"There is a lot of talk and suggestion about how I am doing," said 33-year-old Kramer after having skated his sixth time in Heerenveen at 5,000 meters with a score of 6.10.91. "Some things are made larger than they are, so that an objective picture is not always sketched. But ultimately it is about the results."
Those results have not always been as good in the last 18 months, after the Frisian rulers in the 12-year-long skating rink. This winter he started with a third place in the 5 kilometer of the qualification tournament for the first World Cups, after which with the thirteenth place in Minsk he set his worst result ever at the 5,000 meter world cup.
There were certainly explanations, because Kramer has been struggling with back problems for years. In addition, he suffered a knee injury during a bicycle training mid-October due to a car crash. In recent months it has caused doubts about the shape of the Frisian, also among the outside world.
"The finger in front of my mouth was not intended personally," said Kramer in Thialf on Friday. "I try to put down my good journeys so well and so badly and that is not always easy. This 5 kilometer was mainly a victory over myself. Yes, I let my legs speak."
The NK podium of the 5,000 meters, with Sven Kramer, Patrick Roest and Jorrit Bergsma. (Foo: Pro Shots)
"I knew it was getting better and better"
Kramer proved last week at a training match with a track record at the 3 kilometer in Heerenveen that his form is growing, after he had skated no more than a month after the 5,000 meter in Minsk.
"I knew it was getting better," said the Jumbo-Visma driver. "But I have been mixed and I have sometimes had it good one day and very bad the next. Fortunately that was not the case today. I am very happy with this race and the way I skated."
Kramer knows that he has to learn how to deal with his back injury for the time being. If he will already undergo surgery, that will certainly not happen during the season. "It is managing, keeping everything as good and as possible as possible. That is going well now. But I am recovering less quickly than before and I have to be careful with myself."
"That doesn't mean I can't drive fast, but sometimes I have to take a different approach. But in the end we now get to the tournaments that matter, the World Cups are not included. So this race is very nice "
Patrick Roest extended his title on the 5 kilometer. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Roest: 'Sven was closer to me than the last two years
Kramer had to put up with Roest on the opening day of the Dutch Championship distances. The all-round world champion extended his title by clocking 6.09.79, although he also saw that his teammate was only slightly more than a second slower.
"Sven is closer to me than he has been in the last two years," concluded the 24-year-old Roest. "So it was hard work for me."
De Lekkerkerker saw in recent weeks that Kramer was getting stronger. "Of course I know how Sven is doing, that his back has not been in order for a long time, but that he is now doing well again and that he can show it on the ice again immediately. I knew that he would be dangerous today "
In the end, Roest was still the winner in the battle between the two Jumbo-Visma toppers, also because he started after his teammate. "Today I was better again, but I also saw that it can be the other way around if I have a bad day and Sven has a very good day. So it is important to stay sharp."
See also: Overview: Results and NK distance program