Nao Kodaira (JPN) confidently won the second Ladies 500m at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Heerenveen on Saturday. Winning in 37.33 seconds, the 31-year-old was 0.04 seconds slower than she was on Friday, and the gap between her and the rest of the field in today’s race was a bit smaller (0.2s). Silver medalist Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) finished in 37.53s and Arisa Go (JPN) was third in 37.88s.
On Friday the gap between winner Kodaira and runner-up Lee had been 0.31 seconds. Although Lee got closer, Kodaira still feels that she is far ahead. “My biggest opponent? That’s myself,” she said.
Last season, Kodaira dominated the 500m, winning the World Cup and the World title. She believes she has become even better this year. “I trained with the boys in the summer. That was very good for my speed,” she said.
Where will that speed carry her, with World Cups at high-altitude tracks in Calgary and Salt Lake City coming up in a couple of weeks? “A world record? I hope so. I have to stay calm and focus on good skating,” she said.