Speed Skating fans at Hamar's Vikingskipet watched two track records set on the second day of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating. Nao Kodaira (JPN) won the 500m in 37.25 seconds to skate Jenny Wolf's (GER) 2008 time of 37.52 seconds into the history books, while Brittany Bowe (USA) took 1000m gold in 1 minute, 14.79 seconds, to beat another German 2008 track record: Anni Friesinger's 1:14.81.
Nao Kodaira of Japan in World Cup action in Hamar, Norway © International Skating Union (ISU)
Herzog closing in on Kodaira
Nao Kodaira maintained her unbeaten 500m record in this season's World Cup, but her absence at the third leg in Poland leaves the World Cup ranking top spot to Vanesse Herzog (AUT). In Hamar, the two faced each other in the eighth pairing. Kodaira was 0.17 seconds faster over the first 100m but Herzog managed to win back a little in the full lap. Her 37.37s also bettered Wolf's previous record. Angelina Golikova (RUS) was more than half a second slower to take bronze in 37.91s.
Herzog was happy to retain her World Cup lead with the silver medal. "I had the fastest lap today so I'm happy," the 23-year-old said. "I'm stable with my starts and I'm satisfied with my 10.4 [over the opening 100m], but she [Kodaira] does 10.2 and that's a pretty big difference. The European Sprint Champion feels like she's closing in on the Olympic 500m champion.
"Coming out of the final corner she was a bit in front of me and I was closing the gap in the final 100 meters." The World Single Distance Championships take place in Inzell, Germany next week, and Herzog does not think that Kodaira is unbeatable. "I have a chance but it has to be a perfect race for me."
Silver medalist Vanessa Herzog (AUT) on day 2 of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Hamar © International Skating Union (ISU)
Kodaira was happy to test her legs after a long period of training in January. "This is my first race since the last year’s national championships in Japan during the end of December and I think 500m was OK," she said.
"Overall, it was a good preparation for next week’s World Single Distance Championships. I'm looking forward to it. I just want to sleep well, eat well for it and express myself on the ice."
Bowe rules 1000m
Brittany Bowe (USA) took her third consecutive 1000m win to extend her lead in the World Cup ranking. The US athlete skated against Kodaira in the final pair. Until that moment, Lotte van Beek (NED) had led the field having skated 1:15.42 in the second pairing.
"I wondered what was happening when I saw all the other races and no one managed to beat my time," van Beek said. "And then it was only one race to go, so I knew I was on the podium, which came as a surprise." Van Beek did not qualify for the World Single Distance Championships but she did earn a ticket for the World Cup Final in Salt Lake City in March. "It's sad that I will not skate in Inzell but that's my own fault," she said. "I should have been better in December [at the Dutch Single Distance Championships] to qualify but that's how it works. I'm happy that I could show that I can still be fast and that I will skate in Salt Lake City."
(L-R) Nao Kadaira (JPN), Brittany Bowe (USA) and Lotte van Beek (NED) © International Skating Union (ISU)
Kodaira and Bowe also showed that they can still skate fast. Bowe started in the inner lane, of which she took full advantage. She said: "I knew I needed to get moving so she wasn't sitting on me on that first back stretch, and then when she went under me I just tried to use her and continue building my strength through that 600m, to chase her down on the [second] back stretch. And there was the track record. I'm pleased with that. It sets me up well for next week, when it really counts."
Kodaira took silver in 1:15.25. "I think I need more speed in the first half", she said.