Kim Min Sun (KOR) was crowned the first ever Four Continents Champion, when she won the Ladies' 500m to kick off the inaugural ISU Four Continents Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Friday. Home favorite Mia Kilburg-Manganello (USA) had the Star Spangled Banner played in her honor for the first time in senior competition after winning the Ladies' 3000m and Canada’s ladies concluded the day by taking gold in the Team Sprint.
Kim Min Sun (KOR) became the first-ever Four Continents champion by winning the Ladies' 500m in Milwaukee 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Ladies’ 500m: First title for Kim
"Awesome" was the word Kim Min Sun (KOR) used to describe her feelings after having won the first-ever gold medal in the brand new equivalent of the European Championships for non-European countries.
Despite her gold medal, the 20-year-old was not completely satisfied with her performance.
"I made some mistakes at the start, but [overall] the motion was nice,” she said. “That's what got me to first place."
Kim later picked up a silver medal in the Team Sprint and she will also compete in Sunday's 1000m, but the shortest sprint distance remains her favorite event.
"My main objective for this season is the World Cup final. I want to end up sixth in the ranking," said Kim, who is currently ranked seventh in the 500m World Cup.
Brooklyn McDougall (CAN) celebrated her second place with a big smile.
"It's really cool to come here for the first time ever [at the ISU Four Continents Championships],” she said. “I hope that they keep it around for the upcoming years. It's a cool event, and perfect to gain experience.
"We have some of the veterans from the World Cup in our team, but also some of the newbies like myself, who’ve only been doing a few international competitions."
The 21-year-old Canadian will get an early chance to make use of the experience gained in Milwaukee next week at the fifth leg of the World Cup in her home town of Calgary.
"That will be my first senior World Cup, so I have a lot of big hopes for it," she said.
USA's Mia Kilburg-Manganello celebrates victory in the Ladies' 3000m on home ice 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Ladies’ 3000m: Kilburg-Manganello celebrates home victory
Mia Kilburg-Manganello put up a great fight to win the Ladies' 3000m. The US skater held back a little after a fast start. Racing in the final pairing, she had slower split times than Nadezhda Morozova (KAZ) had posted when she skated the fastest time of the field in the penultimate pairing.
Roared on by the home crowd and her parents, who took a six-hour drive from Ohio to see their daughter compete in Milwaukee, Kilburg-Manganello managed to close the gap in the final three laps.
Heading into the final lap she was only 0.03 seconds behind. By the time she reached the finish line she was 0.80 seconds ahead, stopping the clock at 4.07.00. Morozova had to settle for silver while Japan’s Nana Takahashi took bronze in 4:11.00.
Kilburg-Manganello skates for gold 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
After having won her career-first individual World Cup medal with bronze in the mass start in Nagano, Japan, last month, Kilburg-Manganello celebrated her first international title on home ice.
"It's fantastic," she said. "I was actually a bit more nervous than I've been in a long time going into the race. I think [that is] because it’s at home. I have family here, it's personal."
Having the national anthem being played in her honor was an emotional moment for the 30-year-old. "I don't think it was ever played for me before," she said with a smile.
"The effort in the actual race was probably the best part about it. [It's] one step closer, showing that progress is being made, coming off the World Cup."
After the fourth leg of the World Cup in Japan in December, Kilburg-Manganello had not competed in any serious races and she lacked rhythm.
"I tend to do better and better as I race,” she said. “[I] get more comfortable with the effort.
"Today showed that I have the lungs, and the legs are getting stronger, but I need to be able to have that feel."
Canada set the pace in the Ladies' Team Sprint 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Ladies’ Team Sprint: Canada takes the honors
Friday's action ended with the Team Sprint.
In a field of four, Canada's Noemie Fiset, Bëatrice Lamarche and Brooklyn McDougall took gold, Korea's Kim Hyun-Yung, Kim Min Ji and Kim Min Sun silver and China's Xiangyu Chen, Lin Xue and Mei Han bronze, keeping the home trio of Blair Cruikshank, Erin Jackson and Chrysta Rands off the podium.
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