Salt Lake City, Utah, USA


There were mixed feelings all over the place after the Ladies’ 500m on Friday. Nao Kodaira (JPN) won the world title, but finished outside the world record she wanted to break, while Angelina Golikova missed out on the gold medal but secured the Russian record for at least another year. In the Ladies’ Team Pursuit, Japan did skate a world record to retain their title. The Netherlands took silver while Canada went home with bronze. Ladies TP JPN celebrate world record skate

Japan celebrate world-record success in the Ladies' Team Pursuit  2020©International Skating Union (ISU)

Ladies’ Team Pursuit: Japan back to their normal selves

Japan's Miho and Nana Takagi have dominated the Team Pursuit together with Ayano Sato over the past three years, but this season they have looked vulnerable after a series of line-up changes in the World Cup.

In Salt Lake City they were back to their normal selves. Sato linked up with the Takagi sisters and together they shaved 0.11 seconds off their own 2017 world record, clocking 2:50.76 to win gold ahead of the Netherlands and Canada. 

"We are very happy,” smiled the team's anchor Miho Takagi. "Everyone has gotten better since the last World Cup in Nagano.

"[Ayano Sato] had a bad feeling at the World Cup in Poland [in November], but after that she trained more and now she's in very good condition."

Despite their good form, the world record did not come easy for the Japanese trio.

"The [rules for the] suits have changed. We have to wear more protection, so we can't move the way we used to do,” Miho Takagi said. “That makes it difficult.

"The ice is very good, but the first lap was a little bit too fast and the last lap a little bit too slow. Next time we have to try to skate a more even schedule."

Ladies TP medalists

Ladies' Team Pursuit medalists (from left): Netherlands (silver), Japan (gold), Canada (bronze)   2020©International Skating Union (ISU)

The Dutch ladies (Antoinette de Jong, Melissa Wijfje and Ireen Wüst) were disappointed to collect a second successive world silver medal in the Team Pursuit, but they had an explanation.

"We never train together at high speeds," De Jong said. "We have to train more to get used to each other's strides. We are letting ourselves down [by not training enough together]."

Ladies 500m medalists

Mixed feelings for the medalists in the Ladies' 500m  2020©International Skating Union (ISU)

Ladies’ 500m: Kodaira disappointed despite golden display

Despite clocking 36.69 to recapture the world title Austria’s Vanessa Herzog took from her last year in Inzell, Japan’s Nao Kodaira was not completely satisfied with her afternoon’s work.

"This was not my best race of the season,” she said. “It's a pity that I'm still 0.3 seconds away from the world record [set by retired Lee Sang-Hwa (KOR) in Salt Lake City in 2013].

"In [Saturday’s] 1000m I hope to skate a world record and in the 1500m I'm aiming at a personal best."

Herzog skated after Kodaira set her time and finished in 36.83, which put her in fourth place.

In the final pair, Russia's Angelina Golikova and Olga Fatkulina took on Kodaira's time.

"I thought it was a top time, but not impossible for me,” Golikova said. “I was nervous and very focused. I was so focused that I almost forgot to take my armband [which is mandatory to indicate the starting lane].”

Golikova grabbed the armband in the nick of time and managed to beat her compatriot by a 0.05 second margin, leaving her an agonising 0.04 short of winning the title.

At last week’s World Cup in Calgary Golikova had broken Fatkulina's Russian national record and she managed to shave a little more off that time.

"I was also very nervous because I skated versus Olga [Fatkulina] and she is the European champion,” Golikova said. “I wanted to fight with her to show that I can be a champion too.

"I'm very happy now. I don’t have the gold medal, but I have the record."

Fatkulina had to settle for bronze, despite skating a personal best of 36.83.

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