Amsterdam / Netherlands

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Coolste baan van Nederlands

Miho Takagi (JPN) started the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships with a blast in the 500m, to take a big advantage over defending champion Ireen Wüst (NED) on the first day of the Championships on the outdoor track in the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium on Friday. Wüst fought back in the 3000m and has not given up on the title just yet. Antoinette de Jong (NED) is third after two distances.

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Miho Takagi (JPN)

Takagi only one under 40 seconds
Takagi skated in the second pairing against Ivanie Blondin and took an 0.79 advantage over her pair-mate after the first straight already. Takagi was the only skater to open under 11 seconds, clocking 10.57 at the first split. With 39.01, she was the only one to complete the 500m under 40 seconds too.

Gabriele Hirschbichler (GER) came second in the 500m when she set 40.22 in the final pairing versus Ireen Wüst (NED). The Dutch defending champion finished in ninth place with 40.81, which was more than two seconds behind her personal best. Takagi was less than a second slower than her personal best. With 40.32 third ranked Ayaka Kikuchi (JPN) was exactly 1.31 slower than her PB. Antoinette de Jong (NED) shared fourth place with Nikola Zdráhalova (CZE) in 40.47, which also was 1.31 slower than her Personal Best.

Takagi had a 7.26 gap over Hirschbichler in the 3000m. Kikuchi was 7.86 behind, while De Jong and Zdráhalova had to make up 8.76.

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Gabriele Hirschbichler (GER) and Ireen Wüst (NED)

Wüst strikes back
The conditions in the Amsterdam Stadium were difficult. Just before the racing commenced, it started raining and there was no respite from the rain. Despite these conditions, all skaters were enthusiastic about the atmosphere in the stadium. “The audience stayed in despite the rain and they kept on cheering, that’s fantastic”, Wüst said.

The defending champion was not happy about her 500m, but hit back hard in the 3000m. “My 500m was disappointing”, she said. “Somehow I just couldn’t get through the corners properly, especially my left skate. After the 500m I faced quite a big gap and I tried to turn my negative feelings into positive feelings for the 3000m. I stepped on the ice and told myself not to do anything I’m used to do indoors, but just push every stroke and keep the rhythm.”

Wüst stopped the clock at 4:15.80 in the ninth of 11 pairs and she was more than five seconds faster than Martina Sáblíková (CZE), who had set the best time up till that moment. Takagi knew what to do: “I watched Ireen’s race and I knew what to do. At first I aimed at 33 or 34 laps in the beginning of my race, but after I had seen Ireen, I knew I had to be faster in the first part of my race.”

Takagi could not match Wüst’s lap times, but she limited the damage, finishing in 4:19.78, for second place in the 3000m.

Coach Johan de Wit was happy with Takagi’s performances: “We may have had little advantage starting early in the 500m, but it was the other way around in the 3000m, so that evens out well. We’ll get to head-to-head races tomorrow, so there can be no discussion about conditions. I think that’s super, it’s what everybody is coming here for.”

Wüst was also looking forward to Saturday’s races. The gap is between her and Takagi is 3.42 seconds in the 1500m. “The gap is still big, but there are two distances yet to come and I haven’t given up on the title just yet”, she said.

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Antoinette de Jong (NED)

Antoinette de Jong is 6.02 seconds behind in the 1500m. After her fast 500m, she was far from satisfied with her performance in the 3000m. “The atmosphere in the stadium is just great, and I would have loved to show more than I did today. Somehow it just did not work out for me in the 3000m. I was not able to convert the energy I felt in my body, into speed on the ice.” Like Wüst, De Jong did not settle for her position in the rankings just yet. “No, I may have a subscription for third places, but there are two distances to come and it’s outdoors so you never know.”

Kikuchi holds fourth place after coming sixth in the 3000m, and Annouk van der Weijden (NED) climbed to fifth. Zdráhalo

va dropped to seventh place after coming ninth in the 3000m and Hirschbichler dropped to 18th place after coming 22nd in the 3000m.

The Championships continue tomorrow with Men’s 500m and 5000m and the Ladies 1500m and 5000m.