Nao Kodaira added 500m bronze to the gold she won in the same event on Friday 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Local hero Nao Kodaira (JPN) may have had to settle for bronze, losing out to Russia’s Angelina Golikova in the 500m, but the excited crowd in Nagano’s M-Wave still had a gold medal to cheer for as Japan, back in their 2018 Olympic Games-winning line-up, triumphed in the Team Pursuit.
2nd 500m Ladies: Golikova takes advantage, Herzog rediscovers her form
Chasing her second 500m gold medal of the World Cup season, Golikova was happy to face off with her Russian teammate Daria Kachanova in the sixth pairing.
"I was due up to Olga [Fatkulina] initially, but on today's start list I was paired with Daria,” Golikova said. “That was better for me. Olga has a good lap but her start is not the best. Daria has a strong first 100 meters, so she helped me in this race."
Finishing in 37.24, Golikova was 0.27 seconds faster than she had been on Friday, when she took silver behind Kodaira. The 28-year-old Russian felt that starting in the inner lane and finishing in the outer made the crucial difference.
"Getting into the final inner corner with high speed is more difficult,” she said. “This time, I realized that I had the second outer and I was more confident."
Angelina Golikova powered to gold in the weekend's second 500m 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Vanessa Herzog seems to have left her early-season troubles behind. The Austrian world champion had already skated 37.45 before Golikova took the ice, earning her a second World Cup medal this season after Friday's 500m bronze.
"Finally," she smiled. "On Friday I was still a bit stressed for the start, but today I was just trying to focus on the signal and go off the line as fast as I could. My last corner wasn't great, but I'm happy."
M-Wave was buzzing with excitement when Nao Kodaira stepped on the ice in the penultimate pair to take on Fatkulina. The Olympic champion had to step up her game after Golikova's exploits, but she ended 0.01 slower than she had been in winning gold on Friday.
"The body as a whole was not in a good balance today," she said. "But I'm happy with the audience here, it reminded me of the Olympics."
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 500m Ladies
Japan's Ladies' Team Pursuit skaters gave the home fans plenty to cheer on the final night of the Nagano 2019 World Cup 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Team Pursuit Ladies: Japan get winning team back together
The enthusiastic M-Wave crowd did not let their disappointment get in the way of cheering for Japan's Team Pursuit ladies in the evening’s third medal race.
Going out in the first pairing against Belgium, Japan smashed the Netherlands’ 2016 track record by more than two seconds, finishing in 2:56.37.
Sato missed the first Team Pursuit race this season in Poland, and the whole Japanese A-squad had skipped the second race. The 23-year-old was happy to be back and was delighted with the support the home team received.
"This season my condition has not been very good and it did not pick up as fast as I had hoped, so I had a lot of stress," she said.
"Because of our Olympic gold in PyeongChang there was a lot of pressure [in Nagano], but I tried to turn the pressure into power.
“We got a lot of strength from the fans. I hope this gold medal gives power to the fans too and that it makes them come back to watch us next time."
Miho Takagi was happy to have her Olympic companion back in the team.
"[Ayano] Sato picks up my pace and is able to maintain it," she said. "It's one thing to build up the speed, but if the one who comes next is not able to keep it up, it's useless. Sato is skating very well at the moment.
"But even if we have other team members racing, we have to win gold. We've got enough strong skaters. The line-up shouldn't matter."
Canada lost the battle but won the war, their second-place finish in Nagano earning them the overall World Cup for Team Pursuit 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Canada (Ivanie Blondin, Valérie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann) took gold in the absence of Japan's A-squad in Nur-Sultan last weekend and managed to stay close to the home team, clocking 2:57.81 to grab silver.
That second-place finish secured the overall Team Pursuit World Cup, the Canadians having won a bronze, a gold and a silver medal in the three qualifying races.
"Consistency is the key word to make a good Team Pursuit," Maltais said.
Blondin, who has picked up two individual golds in Nagano, believes that Canada can catch Japan as they look forward to upcoming events.
"Absolutely, they still had a great race and yes, they were faster, but I still think we can beat them," she said.
The Netherlands, who had left their top-guns home and skated with youngsters Esther Kiel, Elisa Dul and Reina Anema, finished fifth to secure the overall bronze.
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings Team Pursuit ladies
Where to Watch the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series 2019/20
Viewers will be able to watch either via their national broadcaster / channel and for countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel. You will find the full list in the Where to Watch news here.
Subscribe to the ISU Newsletter to receive the latest information and the “Where to Watch” news. You can also subscribe to the Skating ISU YouTube Channel to receive notifications when live streams start or new videos are published.
Highlights, clips, interviews, behind the scenes:
YouTube: ISU Skating
Follow the conversation with #SpeedSkating.
For further information on ISU Speed Skating visit https://www.isu.org/speed-skating
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series 2019/20: