Nao Kodaira (JPN) started the 2018/19 Speed Skating season as the lady to beat in the 500m, but Vanessa Herzog (AUT) was up for the challenge. The Japanese sprint queen won the first four 500m races of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating season on home soil in Obihiro and Tomakomai, with her Austrian challenger coming second in all four races. Kodaira and Herzog were gearing up for a season long fascinating battle in the shortest distance.
At age twenty Tingyu Gao (CHN) claimed bronze in the 500m at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and became the first Chinese man to win an Olympic medal in Speed Skating. Although he still has a long career ahead of him, the youngster aims to be at the top of his game for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games and takes a philosophical approach: "Success is a journey, not a destination."
Stamina, that's what separates Marina Zueva (BLR) from the others. Speed skating was her first love, but certainly not the only one. Since she was a little kid Marina has also done inline-skating, mountain-biking and cycling on both road and track. Apart from being a top-athlete herself, the Belarussian national champion also coaches kids. Working on the development of speed skating in her motherland, Marina takes two youngsters by the hand to form a Belarussian Team Pursuit squad next season.
He's a triple Speed Skating World Champion, a double European Champion and a multiple World Cup winner, but the first time Denis Yuskov put on skates as a kid, he abominated the sport. This season the 1500m World Record holder has set his sights on the World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Inzell.
Pavel Kulizhnikov is the fastest man on skates. In 2015 he beat the 500m World Record in Salt Lake City (USA) in 33.98 seconds. To this date no one else managed to skate the 500m under 34 seconds. The 24-year-old Russian began Speed Skating when he was 12 years old and his talent for the sport was evident from the start. "I appeared to make progress way faster than most other kids", he says.
Sports is all about competition, but even the fiercest sporting rivalries often lead to close friendships too. Here's the story of Korean Sang-Hwa Lee and Japanese Nao Kodaira, enemies on the ice, but friends in real life.
As the only lady to win two gold medals in Speed Skating at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Nana Takagi was crowned Queen of the Gangneung Oval. The older of the successful Takagi-sisters won the Mass Start gold, which made its Olympic debut in PyeongChang on February 24. Just three days before, she had won the Team Pursuit title together with sister Miho, Ayano Sato and Ayaka Kikuchi.
From a phone call in early 2017 to an Olympic title in February 2018. Carlijn Achtereekte’s (NED) 3000m gold was unexpected, but the Dutch skater had a plan and stuck to it. After having swapped from team to team for several years, Achtereekte felt that she had never lived up to her real potential and she decided to call Jac Orie (NED), coach of the successful trade team of, among others, Sven Kramer (NED).
“I literally owe my life to speed skating,” says Laurent Dubreuil. Both his father and mother were Olympic speed skaters back in 1988 and 1992.
“When I was only a few months old, my mother already took me on a horseback.” Antoinette de Jong smiles when she’s talking about horses. Had she not become an Olympic Speed Skater, she would definitely have pursued an Olympic career in equestrian events.
Norwegian speed skating enjoys a resurgence. Håvard Lorentzen and Sverre Lunde Pedersen already won World Cup races in the fresh Olympic season and Sindre Henriksen took his first podium with bronze in de 1500m in Stavanger.