Speed skater Marten Liiv made history at an International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup in Heerenveen, becoming the first Estonian to compete in a Division A race, posting an Estonian record in the process.
On Saturday, Liiv got first place in a Division B race with a time of 35.259 seconds, ensuring passage to Sunday's Division A race. A big jump in level for the final on Sunday, Liiv improved the Estonian 500 m speed skating record with a time of 35.123 (+0.66) seconds, good enough for 14th place for the event.
"Emotions are still good. The most pleasing thing is that I was 14th. This means I should remain in Division A. I should not drop out as I have enough points," Liiv told Vikerraadio on Sunday evening.
First place was taken by Russian skater Artem Arefyev with a time of 34.459, followed by two Dutchmen Dai Dai Ntab and Lennart Velema, 0.19 and 0.28 seconds behind first place, respectively.
"The ice this week was faster than last week's European Championships. It was one of the best World Cups," the Estonian said about his record-breaking weekend. "I was second in the 1000 m as well, this means that I will race in Division A next week."
While not as succesful as to reach Division A in qualifications, Liiv also reached the podium in Sunday's 1000 m Division B final, posting a time of 1:09.181, 0.15 seconds behind first-place Piotr Michalski. The result puts Liiv into Division A qualifications for the discipline next weekend.
Liiv says he is in good form, but things could be even better: "Compared to last season, I am posting more stable times this season. Last year, one of five or six competitions was good - the last World Cup event in Calgary. I have skated both 500 m and 1000 m into similar times this season. I am happy about that. I think there is still much room to develop."
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste