Speed skater Sverre soars

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Amidst all the hype of the Nordic Skiing World Championships that ended over the weekend, another Norwegian winter sports star has been winning medals of his own. Speed skater Sverre Lunde Pedersen won another one over the weekend, claiming silver in the World Allround competition in Calgary, after winning more silver and even gold last month.

Norway’s new speed skating star Sverre Lunde Pedersen (left) beat the legendary Sven Kramer (right) in Calgary over the weekend. Now he’s battling for gold against Kramer’s Dutch teammate Patrick Roest. PHOTO: International Skating Union

Pedersen, a mild-mannered 26-year-old from Bergen, won his first individual gold medal in the 5,000-meter race at a World Championship event in Germany last month. He also won silver in the 1,500-meter race and shared silver in a team effort with Håvard Bøkko and Sindre Henriksen.

“This really does mean a lot,” Pedersen told news bureau NTB after the medal haul in Inzell. “This is what I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little boy. To win like this before so many people and Norwegians is just amazing. It almost feels like I’m on home turf.”

Ardent Norwegian fans had made their way to the German venue and filled the stands with flags and cheers. “It’s become really clear that I’m in great shape, and I’m skating better than ever before,” Pedersen told state broadcaster matter-of-factly. “At the Olympics (last year) I wasn’t able to show how good I am, but I could now.”

Then came Calgary this past weekend, where the International Skating Union was holding an Allround event. Even Dutch skating legend Sven Kramer was pointing to Pedersen as the favourite, and they shared the winners’ platform when Pedersen placed ahead of Kramer but behind Patrick Roest of the Netherlands. Nine-time champion Kramer had to settle for bronze as Roest and Pedersen battled for gold.

Kramer is among those impressed by how Pedersen is performing on the ice, after years of hard work and training. “If you try to look objectively at the results from this year, Sverre has been best,” Kramer told Pedersen’s hometown newspaper Bergens Tidende (BT).

‘I dare to say that I can win’
Now Roest poses the biggest challenge. Pedersen claimed he wasn’t disappointed by Roest’s victory in Canada: “Patrick Roest was better than me, pure and simple. Then I’m satisfied with silver.” The Norwegian team’s coach Bjarne Rykkje said that “Sverre has shown he’s better than Kramer now and Roest isn’t as stable as Kramer. We can beat him, I don’t doubt that.”

Pedersen himself says he simply feels that he has everything to win and claims he doesn’t feel too much pressure from either Roest or Kramer. Beating Kramer was important: “Kramer has been best for so long that it’s been difficult to say I’m going for gold,” Pedersen told BT. “But now I have beat him, and it’s easier to say that. Now I dare to say that I can win.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund