The ice was rather slow, there were no personal best times. The track record of the Ladies' 500m was brought below 38 seconds. It fell twice, first to 37.94 and then 37.65.


In the Ladies' 500m, the fastest time was Jing Yu's (CHN) 38.53 until Jenny Wolf (GER) and Sang-Hwa Lee, the Korean who won every 500m this season, met in the last pair. They had the strongest opening both with 10.28, and both continued strongly. For a while it looked as if Wolf would give Lee her first defeat of the season in the 500m, but in the end it was Lee's skate that first crossed the finish in 37.94, with Wolf only one hundredth of a second slower. However both were well below Lee's previous track record of 38.16. Because of the absence of runner-up Heather Richardson (USA), Wolf and Kodaira (JPN) passed her in the World Cup ranking.

Early in the Men's 500m, where Pekka Koskela (FIN) was not racing, Ronald Mulder (NED) beat his pair mate Kang-Seok Lee (KOR) and his time, 35.34 stood for many pairs to follow. The first to beat this time was Ronald's twin brother Michel Mulder, whose 25.4 final lap made the difference, finishing in 35.20. In the next and final two pairs, first Joji Kato (JPN) had the fastest 100 meters, but due to a lap that was like Ronald's, he finished in 35.22 wedging him between the twins. Then another Dutchman, the leader in the World Cup ranking Jan Smeekens, opened almost as fast as Kato and that with lap times comparable to Michel Mulder's made him the winner in 35.15, increasing his World Cup lead. Smeekens: It was a super race to begin with. 9.6 is the opening you need. In the last outer turn my knee angle wasn't quite good so there is something to improve on. But to be as constant as I am now has been my ambition for a long time. Michel Mulder: A pity that I wasn't first, but 35.20 brought me higher than expected. It is good to see how the level of Dutch sprinting has increased.

In the Ladies' 1000m there was no B-division due to a lack of skaters. Noteable were the absence of the best five skaters of the season on the 1000m, including Heather Richardson, Brittany Bowe (USA), Christine Nesbitt (CAN), and the Dutch, Lotte van Beek and Marrit Leenstra. Margot Boer (NED) set a time of 1:17.35, with laps of 28.1 and 30.9. In the penultimate pair, Hong Zhang (CHN) was faster. The Chinese is known for a slow start, but to increase speed as she proved with her first lap of 27.8, followed by 30.59. She reached the finish in 1:17.14. In the final pair the highest ranked skater present, Karolina Erbanová (CZE) won in 1:17.10. Her opening was more than half a second faster than Zhang's, her first lap of 28.6 and her final lap of 30.3 made all the difference to win. Thus Erbanová became the second Czech women in history to win a World Cup. Erbanová: I'm just really happy. I was a favourite as the better skaters were not here, but it was hard, especially the last lap. My hard work paid off.

In the Men's 1000m, the sixth pair featured Michel Mulder and Olympic Champion Shani Davis (USA). Mulder showed the fastest 200m in this field with 16.59, where Davis' 17.04 was still somewhat tentative. But Davis would come back as the rounds wound down. His 25.6 first lap was only marginally faster than Mulder's 25.7 but the final lap made the difference. Davis had a 27.4 lap and reached 1:10.05, Mulder reached 1:10.67 after a 28.3 lap. They were the first skaters below 1:11 but everybody after them was, too. Samuel Schwarz (GER) opened 16.75, and had laps of 25.7 and 27.5, losing just a bit too much in the last lap to beat Davis, he was still happy with his 1:10.10. Hein Otterspeer (NED), who won the last race, opened 16.84, and managed a 25.6 lap like Davis, but he too lost his advantage in the final (27.5) lap: 1.10.07 his time. Kjeld Nuis (NED), who left World Cup leader Denny Morrison (CAN) behind him, came close but could not change the podium with his 1:10.13. So the world record holder is back on top of the podium: It's getting there, but I have more to go. It was close and I was lucky but it was good enough for today. The conditions are rough. It felt more like a 1500m to me. This season with injury and disqualification has been tough but what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Otterspeer: Just second, only two hundreds away. The ice is very soft here, you don't glide well and have to keep working.


In the second 500m for Ladies, Sang-Hwa Lee impressed again by greatly improving the track record, this time to 37.65, after an opening of 10.36. Jenny Wolf could not keep up with her and finished in 38.41 in fourth. Jing Yu was second with 38.34 and Nao Kodaira third with 38.38. With 6 out of 6, Lee leads the World Cup with 600 points, far ahead of Wolf with 400 and Kodaira with 386, then Richardson with 275 and Jing Yu 245.

In the Men's 500m was a larger group of skaters who had been on the podium before, than in the ladies' field. Of the twin brothers, Ronald Mulder was the fastest today, he opened in 9.66 and finished in 35.21. Only Joji Kato was faster; the Japanese opened in 9.58 and also had the fastest lap, finishing in 34.95, as the only skater below 35. Yesterday's winner Jan Smeekens beat his pairmate Michel Mulder, but his 35.27 brought him to bronze only. Smeekens is leading the World Cup ranking with 430 points, Kato 386 and third is Michel Mulder with 307 points. Olympic champion Mo (KOR) dropped out of the top-5 with a poor weekend.

In the Ladies' 1000m, times in general were a bit faster than on Saturday. Olga Fatkulina (RUS) skated 1:17.12. Laurine van Riessen (NED) also did much better, finishing in 1:17.26, a time that would have been good for bronze the day before. Today it brought her to fourth. Fatkulina earned her first podium finish with bronze. The two most precious medals were divided amongst the final pair with Hong Zhang and Karolina Erbanová. Like a day earlier, the difference in the opening was half a second to the advantage of the Czech, but with a 27.9 and a 30.2 lap Zhang beat everybody and crossed the finishline side by side with Erbanová in 1:16.71. In such a case the verdict comes down to the thousandth of a second, and that showed that Zhang had won in 1:16.717, and Erbanová had skated 1:16.718. In spite of this second place she now took over the lead in the World Cup ranking with 305 points, absent Richardson dropped to second with 280 and Hong Zhang, who was absent in Nagano, is now third with 260.

In the Men's 1000m the medals were divided between the three men who also made the podium on Saturday and again Kjeld Nuis missed the podium by a small margin, 0.02 seconds. Nuis was paired with Schwarz who went away fast from the start, opening 16.67, laps of 25.7 and 27.4 followed so he was the first to break the 1:10 barrier this weekend: 1:09.69.

In the final pair, Shani Davis and Hein Otterspeer made it again a tight race. Otterspeer opened in 16.74, had the fastest first lap of all, 25.4, but Davis stalked him and passed him just before the finish line. Davis' 1:09.87 and Otterspeer's 1:09.92 did bring them to the podium but left the gold to Schwarz. Schwarz: Incredible, I feel like in wonderland. Technically and tactically everything is sound. You still learn little details. This result is beautiful. Überüberrasschend. This way skating makes so much fun!

Morrison's fifth place was enough to keep him in the lead in the World Cup with 325 points, Schwarz is closing in with 314 points, Otterspeer and Nuis both have 310 points.

Afterwards, there was a demonstration event, the Team Sprint. Kazakhstan was the fastest of five male teams with 1:23.48 ahead of Germany and Russia; the Chinese women with 1:29.11 beat Russia and Canada.

This concludes the first series of World Cups. The next will be in Calgary on January 19 and 20, where a week before their World Championships sprinters will compare their powers.