Minsk, Belarus


Olga Fatkulina (RUS) broke Nao Kodaira's (JPN) 23-race winning streak in the World Cup 500m on a thrilling Day 2 in Minsk, Belarus, on Saturday. Daria Kachanova (RUS) came second and Kodaira took bronze after world champion Vanessa Herzog (AUT) was disqualified for a second false start. In other ladies’ action at the opening event of the 2019/20 ISU World Cup season, Ireen Wüst (NED) won the 1500m to take her 24th World Cup gold in the event.

Russian one-two breaks Kodaira's streak

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Olga Fatkulina set a track record to win the ladies' 500m on Day 2 of the ISU World Cup in Minsk © International Skating Union

Starting in pair five, Kachanova took the lead by beating Angelina Golikova's (RUS) 2018 track record (38.08). The 22-year-old Russian started ferociously with a 10.40-second opener and became the first lady to break the 38-second barrier in the 500m in the Minsk Arena, finishing in 37.94.

Only Maki Tsuji (JPN) opened faster than Kachanova, but the Japanese sprinter couldn't follow up her 10.39 with a strong full lap and finished in 38.39 to end up fifth.

Fatkulina took on Golikova, who had just lost her track record, in the penultimate pairing. She opened in 10.59 and continued with an unmatched 27.32 full lap to edge out Kachanova by 0.02 seconds. Golikova crossed the line in 38.52 to finish seventh.

Herzog in tears
With Fatkulina and Kachanova atop the ranking, world champion Herzog and Olympic champion Kodaira entered the rink for the final pairing. It did not turn out to be a thrilling climax to the ladies' sprint. Herzog left the track in tears after two false starts and she will be relegated to next week's B Division in the 500m.

Kodaira had to skate alone and the Japanese sprint queen, who had been unbeaten in 23 World Cup races over 500m in the past three seasons, was not able to keep up with the Russians, finishing in 38.17 to end up third.

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Daria Kachanova (RUS), Olga Fatkulina (RUS) and Nao Kodaira (JPN) with their medals at Minsk Arena © International Skating Union

Wüst paces her race to perfection
Wüst took on Yekaterina Shikhova (RUS) in the penultimate pairing of the 1500m. The reigning 1500m world and Olympic Champion paced her race to perfection. Trailing Shikhova by 0.72 seconds at the 1100m split, Wüst managed to pull off a final 31.63-second lap versus 32.74 for her Russian opponent. With 1:56.46 and 1:56.86 respectively, Wüst and Shikhova were the only ladies to skate under 1:57 in Minsk on Saturday, but they didn't break Miho Takagi's 2018 track record (1:56.36).GettyImages 1182804825

Ireen Wüst of Netherlands on her way to her 25th World Cup gold in the ladies' 1500m © International Skating Union

World record holder Takagi herself started in the final pairing versus Brittany Bowe (USA). The America sprinter started faster, but Takagi stayed on her tail and tried to catch up with a quick penultimate lap. Bowe saw Takagi coming, however, and narrowly held off the Japanese in the final lap. Bowe finished in 1:57.25 to take the bronze and Takagi finished sixth in 1:57.54.

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