KUSHIRO, HOKKAIDO – Nao Kodaira blew away the field for the second day in a row en route to winning her third consecutive title at the speedskating 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 1 minute, 20.17 seconds.
“I am glad that I had strong victories in all four races,” said Kodaira, who pumped her fist after bettering the mark of Eriko Sanmiya in the 500 and becoming the first since her hero to win all four races in 2000. “My skating has really improved. I was hoping to improve on the record.”
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.
“I wasn’t able to be competitive here but I think I was at least able to make my presence felt,” said Okazaki, who is bidding to appear in her sixth straight Olympics at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. “No one has done that before, so I’d like to try,” she said.
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-around competition, times are converted into points, and the lower the score the better.
“Hopefully, I can come closer to breaking the national and world records,” Kodaira said.
Richardson, Davis shine
Heather Richardson dominated the U.S. Long Track Championships for the second day in a row Saturday, setting a national record in winning the 1,000 meters and wrapping up the sprint title. Olympian Shani Davis won the men’s 1,000.
Her time of 1 minute, 13.52 seconds at the Utah Olympic Oval broke Olympian Chris Witty’s old mark of 1:13.83 set in 2002.
“I was really happy I was able to break the record. It’s been standing for a long time,” said Richardson, who won the 500 title in 37.34 seconds on Friday for the fastest time in the world this year. “I definitely think I fed off of yesterday. I never thought I would be going 37.3 so I was really excited after that and it gave me confidence for today.”
Davis won the 1,000 in 1:08.57. Brian Hansen was second at 1:08.74, and Jonathan Garcia took third at 1:09.24.
“It’s a short race so you have to push yourself,” Davis said. “You have to go out there and give it your all and if you’re able to win, great.”