January 17, 2023 | at the FISU Winter University Games
Eric Heiden needs no introduction, especially around Lake Placid.
On Monday, the second day of long track speed skating at the 2023 FISU World University Games, the track record of the Olympic legend in the men’s 5,000m race, which had held since he won the gold medal five times in 1980, was finally broken at the James C. Sheffield Oval .
Italy’s Riccardo Lorello was the first skater to fall below Heiden’s previous record of 7:02.29, crossing the line in 6:53.22, which turned out to be the winning time.
Moments later, his teammate Daniele Di Stefano clocked a time of 6:55.20, earning him silver. Motonaga Arito was third with a time of 7:03.03.
Thibault Métraux, Swiss short and long track champion, finished fourth, 0.60 seconds behind bronze – an impressive result considering he was only competing in the 5,000 meters for the third time.
“I’m very happy because this is my first record ever,” said Lorello.
“I enjoyed my start because this distance is very, very difficult to maintain energy,” added Di Stefano. “So I’m very happy with this result.”
In addition to breaking the record, the countrymen were excited about the finish of the Italians.
“I’m very happy for my teammate,” commented Di Stefano after joining his good friend on the podium. “For me, he’s my brother and now we always have that moment where we finish first and second.”
“We live together, we’re on the same team,” added Lorello cheerfully. “We train every day with the only Italian group in Trentino, so it’s an amazing feeling.”
Not to be outdone, all three women who stood on the podium in the 3,000m race on Monday broke the previous record of 4:32.13 set by Norway’s Eva Bjorg Jensen, also at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Canadian Laura Anne Hall won in 4:25.70, followed by Korean Jiwoo Park (4:28.18) and Canadian teammate Rose-Anne Grenier (4:29.10).
“I had seen the record before and wanted to go for it – I just started fast and was able to keep up the pace long enough to get it,” said Hall.
“I heard the announcer throughout the race. I counted two laps to the end, I heard that I have a good pace for it – added the newly minted FISU Games champion, explaining how she realized what pace she had during the race. “And then when I crossed the line, I could look at the board and see that I got it.”
Long track speed skating will continue on Tuesday at Lake Placid 2023 with the women’s and men’s 1,500m heats.
Written by Miha Trošt, FISU Young Reporter
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