VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Speedskater Masako Hozumi turned in a sixth-place effort in the women’s 3,000 meters at the Vancouver Olympics on Sunday.
Hozumi, paired with eventual winner Martina Sablikova, clocked 4 minutes, 7.36 seconds to equal the recent best result by a Japanese speed skater in the discipline.
Maki Tabata placed sixth at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Sablikova captured gold in 4:02.53, bringing the Czech Republic its first-ever Olympic speed skating medal.
Stepanie Beckert of Germany took silver in 4:04.62, followed by Canadian Kristina Groves an additional 0.22 back.
“I put in my best performance, but it’s a shame I couldn’t reach the podium,” Hozumi said. “Sablikova was skating far ahead of me. That made me think I want to raise my level.”
Of the other Japanese speedskaters, Shiho Ishizawa came in 15th in 4:15.62 and Eri Natori 21st in 4:18.18.
Sablikova went in the fourth pairing from the end, just as Sven Kramer did Saturday in the first speedskating event, the men’s 5,000. Each of them put up the time to beat, then watched nervously as six more skaters tried — and failed — to take them down.
“I was so nervous because there were three more pairs going,” said Sablikova, who sat in the middle of the oval, holding her hands to her mouth as she watched the remaining pairs. “I was scared.”
In other events, Sho Endo had the best showing for Japan in the men’s moguls, finishing seventh on his Olympic debut with 25.38 points.
“I was able to perform to the best of my ability without getting so nervous,” said the 19-year-old. “I’d like to raise the level of my air maneuvers toward the Sochi Olympics and finish higher in the standings.”
Nobuyuki Nishi took ninth place and Yugo Tsukita was 17th, while Kai Ozaki did not qualify for the 20-man final.
Canada’s Alexandre Bilodeau scored 26.75 to win. In the men’s 10-km sprint biathlon, Hidenori Isa finished 68th in 27 minutes, 42.2 seconds, failing to qualify for Tuesday’s 60-man 12.5-km pursuit.
In the men’s singles luge, Takahisa Oguchi placed 30th.