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
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.