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    Sunday, December 7, 1997

    Romme smashes 5,000 meters speedskating world record

     HEERENVEEN, Netherlands (AP) -- Dutch skater Gianni Romme set a 5,000 meters speedskating world record Sunday, winning the World Cup event in 6 minutes, 30.63 seconds.
     The old record of 6:34.96, set by Norwegian Johan-Olaf Koss at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994, was also broken in the previous race by Dutchman Bob de Jong in 6:33.58.
     Germany's Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann added the women's 1,500 meters race to her 3,000 meters win Saturday. She was timed in 1:58.23, just 0.36 seconds away from American Chris Witty's world record.
     Niemann-Stirneman's time was a German national and stadium record and put her top of the World Cup standings with 100 points.
     German Claudia Pechstein was second in 1:59.93, Austrian Emese Hunyady third in 2:00.38 and Witty fourth in 2:01.17
     The afternoon saw a series of world record attempts by skaters using clap skates on the super-fast Thialf ice rink prepared with specially purified water to improve times.
     "I thought the ice might be as fast or faster than Berlin last week," Romme told Dutch televison after the race. "But not this much faster."
     "We can still go three or four seconds faster at least on the clap skates," he added, referring to the skates which have brought so many new world records to the sport.
     The 24-year-old also won the 5,000 meters event in Berlin and now tops the World Cup standings with 100 points.
     "I was very wound up at the start," said Romme, who went after the record with a first lap of 29 seconds and a pace four seconds faster than Koss' record throughout.
     Another Dutchamn, Rintje Ritsma, made the day's first record attempt but ended up fourth in 6:35.88, behind Norwegian Kjell Storelid, who was third in 6:35.25.
     Asked if he was now the favorite for the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan in February, Romme said, "If you skate very fast and break the world record, then you make yourself favorite."
      World Cup Speedskating Results
     HEERENVEEN, Netherlands (AP) -- Results Sunday of a Speedskating World Cup meet at the Thialf ice rink:
     1. Gianni Romme, Netherlands, 6 minutes, 30.63 seconds (world record).
     2. Bob de Jong, Netherlands, 6:33.58.
     3. Kjell Storelid, Norway, 6:35.25.
     4. Rintje Ritsma, Netherlands, 6:35.89.
     5. Remy Hereide, Norway, 6:37.06.
     6. Frank Dittrich, Germany, 6:38.51.
     7. Rene Taubenrauch, Germany, 6:39.30.
     8. Lasse Saetre, Norway, 6:40.06.
     9. KC Boutiette, United States, 6:40.95.
     10. Roberto Sighel, Italy, 6:41.68.
     World Cup Standings
     (After two meets)
     1. Romme, 95 points.
     2. de Jong, 85.
     3. Hereide, 75.
     (tie) Storelid, 75.
     5. Ritsma, 65.
     1. Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann, Germany, 1 minute, 58.23 seconds.
     2. Claudia Pechstein, Germany, 1:59.93.
     3. Emese Hunyady, Austria, 2:00.38.
     4. Chirs Witty, United States, 2:01.17.
     5. Svetlanda Bazhanova, Russia, 2:01.81.
     6. Maki Tabata, Japan, 2:01.94.
     7. Marianne Timmer, Netherlands 2:02.65.
     8. Annamarie Thomas, Netherlands, 2:02.82.
     9. Mie Uehara, Japan, 2:02.83.
     10. Tonny de Jong, Netherlands, 2:02.88.
     16. Jennifer Rodriguez, Unites States, 2:04.70.
     World Cup Standings
     (After two meets)
     1. Niemann-Stirnemann, 100 points.
     2. Pechstein, 90.
     3. Hunyady, 80.
     4. Bazhanova, 60
     5. Timmer, 55.