#SprintSpeed                        #SpeedSkating

The battle is on at the ISU World Sprint Championships in Changchun. In both the ladies’ and the men’s tournament the Olympic 500m and 1000m champions are engaged in a close fight for the title. After the first day in the ladies’ competition, 500m champion Nao Kodaira (JPN) is in the lead with a small margin over 1000m champion Jorien ter Mors (NED). In the men’s tournament Olympic 500m champion Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen (NOR) is on top, with defending World Sprint champion Kai Verbij (NED) and Olympic 1000m champion Kjeld Nuis (NED) at his heels.

WSCh Golikova Kodaira TerMors GettyImages 926736762

Angelina Golikova (RUS), Nao Kodaira (JPN), Jorien ter Mors (NED)

Kodaira starts with blast, but Ter Mors hits back

Nao Kodaira started the tournament in spectacular fashion. The Olympic 500m champion crushed the track record Jenny Wolff (GER) set in 2008 by a 0.75 second margin, when she clocked 37.23. Her pair-mate Angelina Golikova (RUS) and Ter Mors were also faster than Wolf’s 37.98. The Russian finished in 37.78 and the Dutch Olympic 1000m champion set 37.97. They were the only three ladies to break the 38 second barrier. Arisa Go (JPN) came fourth in 38.06.

In the 1000m, Kodaira faced Hege Bøkko (NOR), who had come 10th in the 500m. Starting from the outer lane, the Japanese rocket clocked the fastest opening of the field in 17.70, which gave her the possibility to come close behind Bøkko for a good draft at the first crossover. She did not manage to hold on to her fast pace, however, and at the 600m split Kodaira was 0.08 behind Brittany Bowe (USA), who had set a new track record in 1:14.96 in the previous pairing. Kodaira lost more time in the final lap to finish in 1:15.68.

Ter Mors opened in 18.12, which was 0.30 slower than Kodaira and 0.36 slower than Bowe. The Olympic 1000m champion went on with unmatched 27.2 and 29.2 full laps, to break Bowe’s fresh track record by a 0.34 margin in 1:14.62. Ter Mors thus won the 1000m, ahead of Bowe and Marrit Leenstra (NED), who clocked 1:15.31.

Kodaira came fourth, but held on to first place in the classification. She will defend a 0.21 gap over Ter Mors in the second 500m on Sunday. Bowe is 0.62 behind Kodaira in third place.

Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen (NOR)

Dutchmen chase Lorentzen
Lorentzen confirmed his status as king of the shortest distance, winning the 500m in 34.89, beating Yu Fengtong’s (CHN) 2008 track record by 0.08 seconds. Japan’s Daichi Yamanaka came second in 34.92 and Tingyu Gao (CHN) took third place in 34.94, after posting the fastest opening in 9.38. The men’s 500m was a close competition, with all skaters in the top-ten within 0.20 from the winner.

Verbij clocked 35.03 to come seventh in the 500m and Nuis only came 12th in 35.21. The Olympic 1000m Champion made amends in his favorite distance. With 1:08.97, he was the only skater to stay under 1:09, when he broke Stefan Groothuis’ (NED) 2010 track record of 1.09,39. Lorentzen (1:09.21) and Verbij (1:09.22), who skated after Nuis had already set the new track record, were both faster than Groothuis had been in 2010 too.

Lorenzen retained his lead in the classification, with Verbij trailing 0.15 seconds in Sunday’s 500m. Nuis is 0.20 behind in third place. Nico Ihle (GER), who came ninth in the 500m and fifth in the 1000m is 0.41 behind in fourth place. Yamanaka and Gao dropped to 10th and 21st place in the classification, after finishing 14th and 22nd in the 1000m.