Shani Davis captured his first World Championship in four years, taking the 1000m gold in Heerenveen, Netherlands, on Saturday.
Later, countrywoman Heather Richardson took the first World Single Distance Championships gold of her career in the 500m. And the biggest Dutch star, Sven Kramer, kept his winning streak alive in the 5000m.
Davis, 32, clocked 1:08.57 in the 1000m to prevail by .04 over Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia. The Netherlands’ Kjeld Nuis won bronze. It’s a major victory for Davis, a two-time Olympic champion in the event.
“I’ve always tried to win on Thialf [the name of the ice arena in Heerenveen] in the Single Distances, and I never, ever had a chance to do it,” Davis told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “My last opportunity before they break down the building, I won the race. I’m so happy and thrilled. I was crying I was so happy.
“When have you ever seen me cry after a race?”
He had not finished better than third in any World Cup race this season and was fourth in the World Championships 1500m on Friday.
Before the World Championships, Davis said he would retire next season if his results didn’t improve.
Davis was eighth in the 1000m at the Sochi Olympics and took bronze at the 2013 World Championships.
“I needed something to show me that I still have what it takes and that I need to continue on,” Davis told NOS. “It’s the best way for me to top the season after having so many bad races. … I couldn’t be happier with myself than I am right now.”
Richardson, a two-time Olympian, continued her stellar form this season by handing two-time Olympic champion Lee Sang-hwa her first defeat in the 500m at a World Championships or Olympics since 2011.
Richardson was eighth in the 500m at the Sochi Olympics but earned her first global championship medal in the event Saturday. Teammate Brittany Bowe earned silver in a reverse of their one-two finish from the 1000m on Friday.
But the loudest cheers in Heerenveen were for Kramer, who trailed countryman Jorrit Bergsma‘s time in the 5000m midway through his pair. But Kramer eventually got under Bergsma’s pace and prevailed by 1.88 seconds.
Kramer, 28, has not lost a World Championships or Olympic 5000m since 2006. Bergsma, 29, took silver after he won the 10,000m on Thursday without Kramer in the field.