Heather Bergsma (USA) claimed her first World Cup gold this season with victory in the Ladies 1000m at the Calgary Olympic Oval on Saturday. World Cup leader in the 1000m Nao Kodaira (JPN) crashed out in the final pairing.
Bergsma clocked 1:13.37 in the penultimate pair to beat Yekaterina Shikhova’s (RUS) 1:13.70. The Russian skater had set the pace in the seventh pair against compatriot Olga Fatkulina, who ended up fifth in 1:13.90.
Kodaira took the ice in the final pair against Marrit Leenstra (NED), and the Japanese sprinter started like a rocket, with a 17.35 second opener.
A shock went through the stadium, however, when Kodaira slipped on the second inner corner and crashed into the boards.
She got to her feet and finished the race in 2:05.88. Her coach Yuki Masahiro said she had a bruised left thigh but no serious injuries.
Bergsma was disappointed not to have seen where Kodaira’s superfast opener might have taken her.
“It’s a bummer,” she said. “You want to see what she can put out there today. With 17.3, she was incredibly fast in the opener. I guess we’ll see what she can do in Salt Lake City next week.”
Leenstra completed her race in 1:13.72 to clinch a bronze medal and Shikhova took the silver.
Bergsma was happy to collect her first World Cup win of season after two difficult weekends in Heerenveen and Stavanger.
“I improved a lot,” she said. “I was looking for a little speed today. I think that was good, the first 600m, so I’m happy with that.”