The Republic of Korea and Japan ran away with the first Mass Start gold medals in the World Cup season, with Seung-Hoon Lee (KOR) winning the men’s race and Ayano Sato (JPN) clinching the honors in the Ladies event in Heerenveen on Saturday.
Reigning World Cup Champion Lee started the defence of his title confidently. The Korean beat World Champion Joey Mantia (USA) with a strong sprint to the line on the final straight. Lee’s compatriot, Jaewon Chung, took the bronze medal.
The Korean team did not have specific race tactics, according to Lee, who said: “We get along quite well but we don’t do anything special. What helps me a lot in the race is my background in Short Track. I use a lot of Short Track techniques in the Mass Start event.”
Lee had come 20th – and last – in the 1500m A Group earlier on Saturday. “I was unhappy with that race and this makes up for my bad 1500m,” the 29-year-old said.
Like the men’s race, the ladies’ Mass Start ended up in a bunch sprint.
Ivanie Blondin (CAN) entered the final lap in pole position and stayed in front until the closing straight.
Sato – who was part of Japan’s winning team pursuit quartet yesterday – managed to beat the Canadian by four hundredths of a second in an extremely difficult situation.
Francesca Lollobrigida, of Italy, finished third to take the bronze medal.