With two gold medals and one silver the Japanese ladies showed their overall strength once more on Day 2 of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Obihiro.
Kodaira far ahead of the pack
Nao Kodaira (JPN) took her 18th 500m World Cup win on Saturday. With 10.40 seconds the Olympic Champion was slower in the first 100m than she had been on Friday, but she compensated for that with a superb 26.9 second full lap to finish in 39.29 seconds, 0.20 faster than the day before. Starting in the final pair Vanessa Herzog (AUT) again was best of the rest in 37.65.
Olga Fatkulina (RUS) ended up in third place (37.87). The Russian silver medallist of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games had won the B division in 38.18 on Friday. In the A Division on Saturday, she was the first to break the 38 second barrier in the seventh pairing. Fatkulina's compatriots Angelina Golikova (37.89) and Darya Kachanova (in a personal best of 37.93) also managed to stay under 38 seconds. They took fourth and fifth place.
Bowe keeps Takagi at bay
Having won all four 1500m World Cup races she started last season, Miho Takagi (JPN) was favourite to win the 1500m on home soil. She started in the final pair straight after Olympic Champion Ireen Wüst (NED), who took the ice in the penultimate pairing. But first came Brittany Bowe (USA) in the fourth pairing. The American, who had been struggling to come back from a concussion in the Olympic season, smashed Miho Takagi's 2017 track record by more than a second, finishing in 1:55.03.
Bowe was exceptionally fast in the first half of her 1500m and managed to hold on just long enough. Wüst was more than a second behind at the 1100m split, but could only win back half a second in the final lap to finish in 1:55.75. She had to settle for fourth place.
Brittany Bowe (USA) wins 1500m in Obihiro 2018 ©International Skating Union(ISU)
In the final pairing Takagi started a little faster than Wüst, but the World Allround Champion still was 0.71 seconds behind Bowe with 400m to go. Takagi's pair mate Yekaterina Shikhova (RUS) was trailing her by only 0.08 seconds and the two went flat out in the final lap to beat Bowe's 31.9 final lap. In a last desperate effort Takagi fell over on the finish line, but it did not help. With 1:55.12 she came 0.09 short. Takagi took silver and Shikhova captured the bronze in 1:55.45.
Miho Takagi (JPN) 2018 ©International Skating Union (ISU)
The first ladies' Mass Start of the season saw three familiar faces on the podium. Olympic Champion Nana Takagi (JPN) edged out Irene Schouten (NED) in the final sprint, with Bo-Reum Kim (KOR) taking the bronze. At the 2018 PyeonChang Olympic Games Kim had taken silver and Schouten bronze.
The race in Obihiro started very slow. Claudia Pechtstein (GER) tried to escape from the pack twice, but never really got away and straightened her back after the second intermediate sprint.
Ivanie Blondin (CAN), Schouten and Takagi were shaping up for the final sprint heading into the final lap, when Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA) tried to make a final jump, but the Italian did not surprise the pack. On the final straight Takagi outsprinted Schouten, while Kim clinched third place, just ahead of Lollobrigida and Blondin.
Nana Takagi (JPN) wins Mass Start in Obihiro 2018 ©International Skating Union (ISU)