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Japanese skaters claim overall women’s team pursuit title

Kyodo

Misaki Oshigiri, Miho Takagi and Nana Takagi combined to earn Japan the women’s team pursuit overall title on Saturday in the final World Cup meet of the season.

Japan came from behind to beat the Dutch team of Antoinette de Jong, Marrit Leenstra and Ireen Wust with a time of 2 minutes, 58.06 seconds, claiming the overall title with three wins in four events this season.

It’s the first time Japan has won the overall title since the 2004-2005 season, when team pursuit became an official World Cup event.

“It’s a massive deal that we beat the best team that the Netherlands has right now,” said Miho Takagi. “Winning the overall title gives us confidence and motivates us and I think we can get even better.”

Oshigiri added, “I didn’t have much to spare after the 1,500-meter race, but in any case, I just tried to give everything I had. This overall title shows that all of the team members have improved.”

Takagi’s sister Nana said, “I am happy because the time was better than the time we had at the single distance world championships. If we can improve on the small things then we can record an even faster time.”

Poland’s Natalia Czerwonka, Katarzyna Wozniak and Luiza Zlotkowska took the bronze.

Bowe wins double

Heerenveen Netherlands AP

Brittany Bowe won the 500- and 1,500-meter races Saturday at the speedskating World Cup finals, beating American teammate Heather Richardson-Bergsma in both events at the Thialf oval.

The 1,500 victory, in 1 minute 54.34 seconds, gave Bowe the overall season title over the distance while Richardson-Bergsma’s second place in the 500 gave her enough points for the overall title despite not winning a single World Cup race over 500 meters.

Heather McLean of Canada was third in the 500; Antoinette de Jong of the Netherlands finished third in the 1,500.

Sven Kramer won the men’s 5,000 in 6:11.44 for his fourth victory in five races over the distance this season. Fellow Dutchman Jorrit Bergsma was second and Sverre Lunde Pedersen of Norway finished third.

The world champion over 5,000 and 10,000 meters said it was a good way to end a successful season.

“Since December, I’ve felt stronger each week,” he told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “That’s a good feeling. (For me), the season could have gone on a few more weeks.”

Dutchman Kjeld Nuis won the 1,000 meters in 1:08.94 to seal the season title.

Kai Verbij of the Netherlands was second and Denis Yuskov of Russia was third.

Nuis went into the finals level on points with Pavel Kulizhnikov but the Russian sprinter was not in Heerenveen after testing positive for meldonium, the drug at the center of the Maria Sharapova doping case.

The drug has produced 99 positive tests so far this year, the World Anti-Doping Agency said Friday. WADA announced in September that meldonium, which was once used to help boost the endurance of Soviet troops, would be banned from 2016, citing evidence of the drug’s performance-enhancing benefits and widespread use in international sports.