Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) won the 500m and the 1000m while the Japanese men claimed Team Pursuit gold on the first day of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in the Arena Lodowa in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland on Friday.
Kulizhnikov takes sprint double
Russia's Pavel Kulizhnikov was back to his best in Tomaszów Mazowiecki © International Skating Union
Pavel Kulizhnikov (RUS) is back on top. The 500m World record holder won the 500m and the 1000m in Tomaszów Mazowiecki on Friday.
In the 500m the Russian rushed to a track record time of 34.83. Ryohei Haga (JPN) came second in 34.98 and Olympic Champion Håvard Lorentzen (NOR) took bronze in 35.10. Kai Verbij (NED) finished fifth in 35.24.
Kulizhnikov climbed to third place in the 500m World Cup ranking after a disappointing campaign in Japan in November. The Russian has 212 points, 10 behind second-placed Lorentzen. Tatsuya Shinhama (JPN) stays top with 242 points, despite finishing sixth in 35.24 on Friday.
In the double sprint distance, Kulizhnikov skated to another track record of 1:09.23, leaving Verbij 0.69 seconds behind in second. Lorentzen came third in 1:10.07.
"He's more or less the old Kulizhnikov, the one we saw about four years ago", Verbij said.
"He also makes little mistakes, but he definitely is the man to beat in the 500m and the 1000m at the moment. Still, there are quite a few guys who come very close: Kjeld Nuis (NED), Lorentzen, myself."
With 148 points, Verbij took over the 1000m World Cup lead in the absence of Nuis, who did not skate in Poland. Lorentzen is second with 134 points and Kulizhnikov lies third with 120 points.
Olympic 500m Champion Lorentzen is satisfied with his World Cup results so far. "I've been consistently on the World Cup podium in all races except for one 1000m, in which I came fourth", he said.
Team Pursuit gold for Japanese men
Japan's men clinched their maiden victory in the Team Pursuit © International Skating Union
The Japanese men followed the ladies' example in the Team Pursuit, Seitaro Ichinohe, Ryosuke Tsuchiya and Shane Williamson clinching gold. Japan clocked 3:47.50 to leave Olympic Champions and World Cup leaders Norway 0.26 seconds behind. Russia came third in 3:47.82.
Japan national coach Johan de Wit (NED) believes the Japanese Team Pursuit men will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.
"They definitely have the same potential as the ladies. I think we have the youngest team on the ice and they already took gold here. And it's not only the guys who were skating today, there's a couple more who can skate a good Team Pursuit,” he said.
“We've been working on this for three years. Japan did not have many endurance riders in the past. We evaluated last year and we came to the conclusion that we needed a bigger squad to train with. We do have a bigger team now with sprinters, middle distance riders and endurance specialists and it is already paying off."