The Associated PressAMSTERDAM (AP) — A week ago, Amsterdam residents and visiting tourists were walking and skating along frozen canals in the Dutch capital.
On Friday, elite speed skaters were doing laps of a man-made outdoor track in the city’s Olympic Stadium.
For the first time since 2001, the three-day speed skating Allround World Championships are being held on an outdoor track, a temporary oval at the stadium which hosted the 1928 Summer Olympics.
The Dutch were expected to dominate the event.
Sven Kramer, the Olympic 5,000-meter champion from Pyeongchang, is the three-time defending men’s champion and is looking to win his 10th title.
Pyeongchang 1,500-meter gold medal winner and defending champion Ireen Wust was aiming for her seventh title.
But she got off to a bad start in the 500 meters on a rainy night, trailing in ninth place, 1.8 seconds behind winner Miho Takagi, who crossed the line in 39.01 seconds. Gabriele Hirschbichler of Germany was second and Ayaka Kikuchi finished third.
Takagi skated in the second pair and Wust in the last, after rain had degraded the ice.
“It’s outdoor skating, and that means dealing with the weather,” Wust told national broadcaster NOS.
The championships are a test of skaters’ all-round prowess, with races over 500, 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 meters for women and 500, 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters for men.