For the first time all season, Heather Bergsma was defeated in a 1,000-meter race. But even while not at her best, Bergsma was fast enough to win silver at the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships on Sunday in Calgary, Alberta.
Raced over two days, the world sprint championships combines results from two 500- and two 1,000-meter races, with one of each distance held each day, to yield the top overall sprinters in the world. Skaters earn points based on their time in each race.
Bergsma’s silver marks her fifth straight medal at the event, making her the fourth woman to achieve that feat. The others are Bonnie Blair (1986-90), and Germany’s Karin Enke (1980-84) and Christa Rothenburger (1985-89). No woman has won six straight world sprint medals.
This is the third straight silver for the two-time Olympian, after earning gold in 2013 and bronze in 2014.
Japan’s Nao Kodaira won gold with 146.390 points for her first career world sprints medal. Bergsma was 0.80 seconds behind total with 147.185 points. Jorien ter Mors took bronze with 147.495 points, matching her result from last year.
Bergsma was third in both the 500- and 1,000-meter Saturday, marking her first 1,000-meter loss this season after winning all six prior ones she had entered. Her third place in the 500 matched her best placement at that distance this season.
On Sunday, Bergsma was fifth in the 500, but with only 0.12 seconds separating second from fifth in that race, she was able to maintain her second place standing. She confirmed her silver medal when she won the second 1,000, returning to top form at that distance.
Bergsma’s silver medal comes two weeks after her impressive three-medal performance at the world single distances championships, where she won more individual medals than any other woman: gold in both the 1,000 and 1,500 and bronze in the mass start, an event that makes its Olympic debut next year.
With one world cup remaining March 11-12 in Stavanger, Norway, Bergsma leads both the overall and 1,000-meter rankings, and is third in the 1,500.