First Norwegian women’s speed skating world champion in 83 years

Dutch treat: Ragne Wiklund comes out of the blue to beat the best in speed skating

Ragne Wiklund

Photo: Norges Skøyteforbund
Ragne Wiklund is Norway’s second woman world champion in speed skating.

MICHAEL KLEINER
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

Where did Ragne Wiklund come from? The dominance of Dutch men’s and women’s speed skaters is already legendary. This season, two International Skating Union World Cup events (Jan. 23–24, Jan. 29–31), the European (Jan. 16–17) and world championship (Feb. 10–13), were all held in Heerenveen, Netherlands, so they had home ice even without their rabid fan base in attendance.

Ragne Wiklund

Photo: Rafal Oleksiewicz
Ragne Wiklund took gold in Heerenveen, Netherlands, on Feb. 14.

Their dominance and depth were on display again. 

On Feb. 14, the 20-year-old Norwegian from Oslo took gold in the 1,500m with a personal best 1:54.613, 0.42 ahead of longtime American star 32-year-old Brittany Bowe, and 0.48 better than Russian Evgeniia Lalenkova. Dutch stars Antoinette de Jong and Ireen Wüst were fourth and fifth. Wiklund was paired with Daria Kachanova of RSU (Russian Skating Union) and won by 2.46. She’s only the second female Norwegian world champion, the first since 1938.

“When I left the hotel, I felt tired,” said a grinning, beaming Wiklund in a video on the International Skating Union YouTube channel. “Before I got on the ice, I just felt really good. I wanted to give my all at the beginning, because that’s my weak spot. I was hoping the podium was in reach. But, I was a bit afraid that I would get fourth place. I feel like that’s been the Norwegian trend this weekend. So, I felt I really needed to step up. [After] My phone was blowing up. I saw it was one of my friends at home and I just picked it up and said, ‘this is crazy.’ When I woke up today, I never thought I would ever be a world champion today,”—taking in a breath—“I don’t think that I’ve quite realized what I’ve done yet.”

speedskating

Photo: Fredrik Varfjell / NTB
Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen, a rising star in Norwegian speed skating, in action on the ice.

To put the victory in perspective, in World Cup #1, Wiklund was 11th in the 1,500m, with a then personal best 1:56.063, which was 2.18 behind gold medalist Bowe, with Wüst second and de Jong third and Dutch skaters Jorien ter Mors and Irene Schouten fifth and sixth. At World Cup #2, Wiklund placed seventh in the 1,500m, behind Bowe, de Jong and, Wüst. In the European Championships, in the 1,500m all-around, Wiklund was seventh in 1:56.94, 2.10 behind de Jong, Lalenkova, and Joy Beune of the Netherlands. 

She never placed higher than fourth in the 3,000m (World Cup #1, World Championships) and sixth in the 5,000m (European Championships, World Championships personal best 6:58.766). In the World Cup standings for the 1,500m, she is eighth with 54 points, 66 behind leader Bowe, with de Jong second, Wüst third. Wiklund was 39th in the 2019-20 season. In the 3,000m, standings, Wiklund is ninth with Schouten tied for first and Beune fourth.

speedskating

Hamar 20200301.
Hallgeir Engebråten under 1500 meter for herrer søndag under VM skøyter Allround 2020 i Vikingskipet på Hamar.
Foto: Geir Olsen / NTB

Norway’s team pursuit squad (Ida Njåtun, Marit Fjelanger Bøhm and Wiklund) placed fourth (2:59.631) in the event at the World Championships, +3.18 behind Netherlands, Canada and RSU.

On the men’s side, the Dutch had at least one podium in all seven races at the World Championships.

The highlight for the Norwegians was a fourth-place finish in the team pursuit with a trio of Sverre Lunde Pedersen, Allan Dahl Johansson, and Hallgeir Engebråten clocking 3:43.231, +1.80 behind Netherlands, Canada, and RSU. Norway leads the Team Pursuit standings. Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen was fourth in the 1,000m in 1:08.704, +0.65 back of winner Dutchman Kai Verbij. Lorentzen was sixth in 500m (34.773) +0.37 behind first-place American Joey Mantia.  Netherlands placed 3, 4, and 5.

In the standings, Lorentzen is seventh in the 1,000m and ninth in the 500m. In the 500m, Netherlands’ Dai

speedskating

Photo courtesy of Team Norway
Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen official portrait.

Dai N’tab leads, with Canada’s Laurent Dubreuil second, Dutchmen Ronald Mulder third, Hein Otterspeer sixth, and Lennart Velema seventh. In the 1,000m, the Dutch swept with Verbij, Thomas Krol and Otterspeer, while Wesly Dijs is eighth.

Engebråten is fourth and Sverre Lunde Pedersen sixth in the 1,500m, with another sweep for the Dutch, Krol and Kjeld Nuis tied for first, and Patrick Roest was third. Engebråten is ninth in long distances.

While the Dutch dominate, Sweden’s Nils van der Poel grabbed headlines with a world record time of 12:32.952 in the 10,000m. He also won the 5,000m (6:08.395).

This article originally appeared in the March 12, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.

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