Obihiro, Japan

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The Japanese ladies gave the home crowd something to cheer for when they won the Team Pursuit at the start of the 2018-2019 ISU World Cup Speed Skating season in Obihiro on Friday. Representing Japan, Ayano Sato and the Takagi-sisters Miho and Nana, skated like a well-oiled machine versus Germany in the final pair of the Team Pursuit. The Dutch ladies came second and Russia third.

In the men’s, Russia's Aleksandr Rumyantsev, Danila Semerikov and Sergey Trofimov surprisingly won the first Team Pursuit race of the 2018-2019 ISU World Cup Speed Skating season in Obihiro in front of the Netherlands and Norway who came in third.

WCSS JPN  Alexander Rumyantsev, Danila Semerikov Sergey Trofimov(RUS)Team Pursuit©International Skating Union(ISU) 1068276862

Alexander Rumyantsev, Danila Semerikov and Sergey Trofimov(RUS) Team Pursuit 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

On Friday, Kodaira confirmed her status as empress of the ladies' sprint, winning the 500m in 37.49. Vanessa Herzog (AUT) was the only other lady to break the 38 second barrier. With 10.33 Maki Tsuji (JPN) had the fastest opener of the day and came third. Nao Kodaira (JPN) and Vanessa Herzog (AUT) continued on Saturday taking gold and silver, respectively, yet again. Olga Fatkulina (RUS) ended up in third place.

Håvard Lorentzen (NOR) was the fastest man on the shortest distance and beat world record holder Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) in the penultimate pair on Friday. Lorentzen clocked 34.73 to stay 0.04 seconds ahead of the Russian world record holder, who took silver. Japan's Tatsuya Shinhama came third in 34.87 to take his first career World Cup medal on home soil.

However, the world record holder Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) took revenge for his silver medal behind Olympic Champion Håvard Lorentzen (NOR). With 34.61 the Russian was 0.12 seconds faster than Lorentzen's winning time and 0.16 faster than he had been himself on Friday. Lorentzen matched Kulizhnikov's previous 34.77, which got him the bronze medal on Saturday. Ryohei Haga (JPN) won silver in 34.71, his second World Cup medal after the 500m bronze he won at the 2014 Obihiro World Cup.

WCSS JPN Pavel Kulizhnikov(RUS)2018©International Skating Union(ISU) 1068732742 (1)

Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Brittany Bowe (USA), smashed Miho Takagi's 2017 track record in the 1500m by more than a second, finishing in 1:55.03 in the 1500m. Takagi took silver with 1:55.12 and Yekaterina Shikhova (RUS) captured the bronze in 1:55.45.

The first men's 1500m of the season was exciting before the A Division had even started. Japan's Masaya Yamada won the B Division in a personal best and track record time of 1:45.66. Patrick Roest (NED) was the first to break Yamada's B Division track record when he stopped the clock at 1:45.12. Olympic Champion Kjeld Nuis (NED) started out faster than Roest and managed to maintain his speed long enough to stay ahead.

The first ladies' Mass Start of the season saw three familiar faces on the podium. Olympic Champion Nana Takagi (JPN) edged out Irene Schouten (NED) in the final sprint, with Bo-Reum Kim (KOR) taking the bronze. At the 2018 PyeonChang Olympic Games Kim had taken silver and Schouten bronze.

WCSS JPN Irene Schouten(NED) Nana Takagi(JPN) Bo Reum Kim(KOR)2018©International Skating Union(ISU) 1068744912

Irene Schouten (NED), Nana Takagi (JPN) and Bo-Reum Kim (KOR) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Andrea Giovannini (ITA) won the men's Mass Start in a tight sprint with Simon Schouten (NED) and Cheon-Ho Um (KOR) after an exhilarating race.

On Sunday, Vanessa Herzog (AUT) defeated Nao Kodaira (JPN) and Miho Takagi (JPN) in a track record time of 1 minute and 14.56 seconds to win the ladies' 1000m.

Esmee Visser (NED) won the first Dutch gold medal of the Obihiro World Cup in the ladies' 3000m. Natalya Voronina (RUS) took silver, while Martina Sáblíková (CZE) clinched the bronze medal.

In the Ladies’Team Sprint, only Russia beat the home team Japan, which was followed by the Netherlands.

Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) was a class apart in the Men's 1000m. The Russian, who had already won Saturday's 500m, crushed his 2014 track record (1.09,23) by more than a second when he stopped the clock at 1 minute and 7.85 seconds. The Russian defeated Kjeld Nuis (NED), who took silver, in a one-on-one race in the penultimate pairing. Thomas Krol (NED) took the bronze.

WCSS JPN Kjeld Nuis(NED) Pavel Kulizhnikov(RUS) Thomas Krol(NED)2018©International Skating Union(ISU) 1069094098 (1)

Kjeld Nuis(NED), Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) and Thomas Krol (NED) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Roest broke Kramer's 2014 track record (6:20.90) in the 5000m, by more than seven seconds when he posted a time of 6 minutes and 13.01 seconds in the fifth pairing. No one else was able to come close. Aleksandr Rumyantsev (RUS) had already clocked 6:17.67 in the fourth pairing and collected the silver. Another Dutch youngster, 21-year-old Marcel Bosker, edged out Patrick Beckert (GER) for bronze in 6:18.12.

WCSS JPN Netherlands Team Sprint 2018©AFP 1063118384

Netherlands Team Sprint 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

The Netherlands grabbed their third win on Sunday, when Michel Mulder, Kai Verbij and Kjeld Nuis captured the Team Sprint gold ahead of last season's World Cup winners Norway. The Dutchmen posted 1:19.78 and were 1:01 faster than Bjørn Magnussen, Henrik Fagerli Rukke and Håvard Lorentzen (NOR). Canada's Christopher Fiola, Laurent Dubreuil and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu took bronze in 1:20.98.