Heerenveen, Netherlands

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Ireen Wüst (NED) confirmed a need for speed after winning the Ladies' 1500m in a new track record at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Heerenveen on Saturday. Nao Kodaira (JPN) also broke her own track record to take gold in the 500m and her compatriot Nana Takagi won the Mass Start.

Wüst enjoys sensation of speed

"This sensation of speed feels really good," Ireen Wüst (NED) said after she shaved 0.01 seconds off her five-year-old 1500m track record in Heerenveen. "After Obihiro, Tomakomai and Tomaszów, Heerenveen feels like you're skating in (the fast high altitude track of) Salt Lake City." 

The Olympic 1500m champion clocked 1:53.30 to win gold. She had not expected to be this fast so early in the season.

"This (track record) comes as a pleasant surprise for me. After having skated on slow rinks for four weeks, it's a nice feeling to come home like this. 

"I hadn't seen this record coming, but it gives me a lot of confidence on my way to the greater goals this year, which is the 1500m world record."

Brittany Bowe (USA) took silver in 1:54.00 and Yekaterina Shikhova (RUS) clinched the bronze medal in 1:54.03. MihoTakagi (JPN) had to settle for fourth place in 1:54.37.

Wüst took over the 1500m World Cup lead from Takagi. The Dutchwoman has collected 217 points in the first four races. Takagi is second with 211 points and Bowe third with 210 points. 

Herzog closes in on Kodaira 

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Ireen Wüst (NED) takes gold in the Ladies' 1500m 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Clocking 10.33 seconds in her first split Nao Kodaira (JPN) opened a little slower than when she set the previous 500m track record last year, but with 26.8 she was faster in her full lap. Her 37.17 finish was 0.12 faster than her 2017 record. 

Vanesse Herzog (AUT) was also faster than Kodaira's previous track record when she clocked 37.23 in the final pairing versus Angelina Golikova (RUS). After winning twice in Kodaira's absence last week in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, the Austrian had to settle for silver again, but she felt satisfied to be closing in on the Olympic Champion, despite having had a difficult week in the run-up to Heerenveen.

"I had the flu last week, so I had to take two days off in training, but in the end it did not bother me too much," Herzog said.

"This race was almost perfect. I improved my opener and my full lap is even a tenth faster than hers (Kodaira). She opened in 10.3 and I did 10.45. I have to be stable with a 10.4 opener."

Brittany Bowe (USA) took bronze in 37.70 and Olga Fatkulina (RUS) fourth in 37.79. Kodaira climbed to fourth in the World Cup ranking with 300 points. The top three stayed the same with Herzog (390) on top, Fatkulina (315) in second and Bowe (305) in third. 

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Nao Kodaira (JPN) on her way to victory in the 500m 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Takagi reigns in Mass Start

Nana Takagi (JPN) took her second World Cup win of the season in the Mass Start. The Olympic Champion kept Irene Schouten (NED) at bay in a chaotic final sprint. Bo-Reum Kim (KOR), who had been leading the World Cup rankings, crashed on the final straight. Ayano Sato (JPN) and Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA) came third and fourth. 

Claudia Pechstein (GER) tried to escape from the pack twice during the race, but she did not manage to put herself out of reach. Melissa Wijfje (NED) controlled the pack and kept everything together to set up teammate Schouten for the final sprint, but Schouten was not able to finish the job.

"I tried something else than normal," Schouten said.

"Usually I am more in front heading into the final lap, but now I decided to come from behind. Because of that I was enclosed in a group with people all around and it was hard to accelerate."

Whether she would have won with a different tactic, Schouten could not tell, but she paid her respects to Takagi.

"When she won the Olympic title, it was her first Mass Start win and I did not really regard her as the best, but now that she's won these World Cup races this year. She really is the best at the moment."

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Nana Takagi (JPN) celebrates her Mass Start victory 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)