Great comeback for Stefan Groothuis
After an injury that kept him off the ice for almost the entire past season, Stefan Groothuis made an impressive comeback at the first important competitions for him this season: the Dutch Single Distances Championships in Heerenveen and the World Cup in Berlin. At both competitions he finished first in the 1000m, confirming Groothuis is definitely back.
By Jolanda Abbes
It has not been a good past season for Stefan Groothuis. In the week leading up to the Dutch Single Distances Championships in October 2007, he injured himself badly at a training and as a result he spent his entire season recovering instead of competing at the various championships. After hitting his left Achilles tendon with a skate, the tendon tore, and Groothuis had to undergo surgery. As a result, he looks back on a season overshadowed by trying to get back on his feet: “I cut halfway trough my Achilles tendon, so it took a pretty long time to recover. After October 24 2007 I didn't skate until June 2008 on the summer ice at the Thialf. But fortunately I'm back!”
And that he’s back indeed is proven by the great results he managed at both the Dutch Single Distances Championships in Heerenveen and the first World Cup of the season in Berlin. At the Dutch Single Distances Championships, that took place October 31-November 2 , spots could be earned on the Fall World Cup Teams and Groothuis qualified for the 500m, 1000m and 1500m. In the 500m he finished 4th after skating a 35.71 (7) and a 35.47 (3), and in the 1500m he finished 5th in a time of 1:47.11. Highlight of Groothuis’s performances in Heerenveen, however, was his gold medal in the 1000m (1:08.82), thereby beating other 1000m specialists like Erben Wennemars and Simon Kuipers.
The weekend after that, Groothuis skated at the World Cup in Berlin and there he showed that his great results at the Dutch Single Distances Championships in Heerenveen were no coincidence. With a 12th (35.68) and a 17th (35.62) place in the 500m Groothuis accomplished a decent start to his World Cup season, followed by a 10th place in the 1500m the next day (1:46.93). But again, the 1000m proved to be his best distance, and even when facing the world’s best 1000m specialists, like Shani Davis and Denny Morrison, Groothuis accomplished the fastest time of the day: 1:09.13. Groothuis reflects on the past two weekends of competition: “I had two great weekends! Of course the two gold medals in the 1000m, but I also made some big improvements in the 500m and 1500m. At nationals I improved my personal best with 41/100 of a second in the 500m. Also, my 1500m’s are much better than in the past!”
All in all, it has been a great start to the season for Groothuis, all the more after the season he had last year. This weekend, he will race at the World Cup in Heerenveen, to which he is looking forward a lot, and after that time will tell what the rest of his season will look like: “My main goal this season will be skating at the World Sprint Championships in Moscow and the World Single Distances Championships in Vancouver. But for now I'm just really happy to skate so well and to be back internationally!”
The first day of competition of the Heerenveen World Cup is this Friday, November 14.
Photo credits: DESGphoto/Lars Hagen