Sang-Hwa Lee has not found the true speed just yet this season. The twofold Olympic 500m champion and world record holder is not worried however.
“I don’t care, this is just training”, Lee said after coming seventh and third in the 500m at the second leg of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating series in Stavanger, Norway.
At the opening leg of the World Cup series in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, Lee took silver twice. Nao Kodaira (JPN) won both races in the Netherlands and went on to win twice in Stavanger.
The 31-year-old Japanese world champion is undefeated in twelve consecutive 500m World Cup races at the moment.
“She’s fast, but I’m slowly catching up”, Lee said.
“Last year I couldn’t catch her because I was injured, but now it feels different. I don’t need to do anything special, just concentrate on my own race.”
In Heerenveen the margin between Lee and Kodaira had been 0.31 and 0.20 seconds. In Stavanger the gap had increased.
“I could not find the feeling in this ice rink,” Lee explained.
“But I don’t worry, because we have so many World Cups. It’s just practice, and the Olympic Games are still far away.”
Having already won two Olympic 500m titles, Lee is aiming for a record-equaling third consecutive gold in the shortest distance on home ice at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Bonnie Blair (USA) won three consecutive 500m golds in Calgary (1988), Albertville (1992) and Lillehammer (1994).
The ladies’ Olympic 500m event will take place on 18 February 2018, exactly one week before Lee’s 28th birthday.