Ireen Wüst can conquer her seventh world title all round this weekend in Hamar. The 33-year-old skater herself is still a big fan of the classic quad camp, but also sees that all-rounding is under increasing pressure.
Ask Wüst how many all-round tournaments she has already ridden in the Vikingskipet and she will be delighted with all her results in the Norwegian ice stadium: bronze at the 2006 European Championship and the 2009 World Cup, silver at the 2010 European Championship and gold at the 2013 World Cups and 2017 and the 2014 European Championships.
"But you should not ask me how many world cups I have driven here," smiles the TalentNED driver in the run-up to her seventh all-round tournament in Hamar. "And I recently had to read in a book that I have the track record here at 1,500 meters (1.54.65, ed.)."
Wüst is simply the "all-rounder in heart and soul", six-time world champion, five-time European champion and four-time Dutch champion in the quad. But it is that part that seems to fade more and more into international skating.
Ireen Wüst won gold in 2017 at the previous World Allround Championships in Hamar. (Photo: Pro Shots)
"It's strange that next year there won't be a world championship all-round"
The World Allround Championships was combined for the first time this year with the World Sprint Championships, in an attempt by the international skating union ISU to reduce the number of world championships. And for next season there is no World Cup all-round on the calendar.
"I think that all-rounding is gradually becoming less important," Wüst concludes. "It used to be the thing in skating, but now there isn't even a World Championship all-round next year. That's weird."
The five-time Olympic champion has not been riding a four-course this season, because she chose the sprint tournament at the Dutch Championship and there was a European Championship distances and no European Championship all-round this winter.
"When it happened that this would all happen, I thought it was a very worrying development," said Wüst. "But now it's a given, so it doesn't make much sense to worry about it. I think it's a shame."
The podium of last year's World Allround Championships, with Miho Takagi, Martina Sáblíková and Antoinette de Jong from left to right. Ireen Wüst finished fifth in Calgary. (Photo: Pro Shots)
"World Cup becomes more exciting than ever"
Thirteen years after her first all-round world title, Wüst is still one of the top favorites for gold in Hamar. About two weeks ago she showed in Salt Lake City with the world title on the 1,500 meters that the shape is okay.
"It was not easy to switch distances to a new goal after the World Championship, because I was tired last week," Wüst smiles. "After such a tournament there is always a lot of tension and then the tiredness comes. And now there was a jet lag and terrible weather in the Netherlands. So I mainly slept a lot."
This week, the Brabant person will notice that the energy is coming back. That is also necessary, because she expects a lot of competition in Hamar with title defender Martina Sáblíková, Antoinette de Jong, Ivanie Blondin, Francesca Lollobrigida, Evgenia Lalenkova and Natalia Voronina. "I think it will be more exciting than ever."
The combined World Cup starts on Friday with the first half of the sprint tournament. The all-round world championship is on Saturday (500 and 3,000 meters) and Sunday (1,500 and 5,000 meters).
See also: Program and Dutch participants World Allround Championships and World Sprint Championships