SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Japanese speed skater Keiichiro Nagashima earned a spot at the Vancouver Olympics after a fifth-place finish in the men’s 500 meters at a World Cup meet on Saturday.
Nagashima timed 34.38 seconds to book his second Olympic appearance, having finished first and third once each on the World Cup circuit earlier this season.
“I finally clinched my spot,” said Nagashima. “I managed two podium finishes early in the season despite being in horrible condition. I want to prepare myself well for the Olympics.”
South Korean Lee Kyou Hyuk (34.26) won the event for his third straight World Cup title, followed by countryman Lee Kang Seok (34.28) and American Tucker Fredricks (34.35).
Japanese record holder Yuya Oikawa came in sixth in 34.48, while Joji Kato, who became the first Japanese skater to secure a place at the Olympics the day before, was in 11th in 34.63.
In the women’s 500 meters, Sayuri Yoshii finished fourth (37.86) to win an Olympic berth along with Nao Kodaira as Japan named two men and two women to the Vancouver speed skating team after eight pre-Olympic World Cup races.
Kodaira marked the only podium finish by a Japanese female skater with a third-place showing in the season opener in early November in Berlin.
She sat out the 500 on Saturday to concentrate on the 1,500, in which she was 12th in 1 minute, 56.10 seconds.
Maki Tabata, meanwhile, set a 1,500 Japanese record of 1:54.28 in placing fourth.
Canada’s Christine Nesbitt won the 1,500 in 1:52.76, while the 500 title went to Wang Beixing of China (37.02).
Japan will select the remaining two men and two women for the 500-meter Olympic races in a qualifying event in Nagano starting Dec. 28.