Speed skater Kodaira sweeps field to claim national crown

Kyodo

Nao Kodaira blew away the field for the second day in a row en route to winning her third consecutive title at the Speed Skating National Sprint Championships on Saturday.

Kodaira won all four races in the all-around competition for a cumulative score of 158.445 points. Miyako Sumiyoshi and Maki Tsuji were second and third overall with 160.340 and 160.435, respectively.

Ryohei Haga captured the men’s crown, his first in two tournaments, with a score of 146.760.

Kodaira established a new rink record in the women’s 500 meters with a time of 39.06 seconds, and also took top honors in the 1,000 in 20.17.

The 41-year-old Tomomi Okazaki could only manage fifth for the second straight day in the 500 with a time of 40.23.

The Nagano Olympic 500-meter bronze medalist finished sixth overall but booked her spot to compete on the World Cup circuit for the first time in three seasons.

Haga came second in the men’s 500 in 36.42 but his 12th-place finish in the 1,000 was good enough to secure the top podium spot. Joji Kato, who won the 500 in 36.00, took the silver while Keiichiro Nagashima won the bronze.

The Japan Skating Federation also said that both Kodaira and Haga secured berths for the world sprint championships in Salt Lake City from Jan. 26 to 27. In all-round competition, times are converted into points, and the lower the score the better.