HACHINOHE, Aomori Pref. – Aki Tonoike clinched the women’s 1,000 meters gold and Hiroki Hirako underlined Japan’s dominance by leading a podium sweep in the 10,000, but Hiroyasu Shimizu was denied a sprint double on the final day of the Winter Asian Games speedskating competition Wednesday.
With Japan far ahead in the speedskating medal table, Tonoike and Hirako put the icing on the cake with solid victories to delight another near-capacity crowd at Nagane Park Speed Skating Rink.
The host nation wrapped up the competition with six out of the nine gold medals up for grabs, with South Korea in second courtesy of a double gold from Lee Kyou Hyuk and China in third.
National record holder Tonoike set the tone in the day’s opening race as she outpaced Chinese 500 gold medalist Wang Manli in a meet record of 1 minute, 21.01 seconds.
Tonoike appeared to slow up on the back straight but did enough to edge out Wang by 0.38 and compatriot Shihomi Shinya, who won the bronze in 1:21.66.
Determined to spoil the party again after winning the 1,500 on Monday, Lee snuffed out a challenge from Shimizu with his second gold of the games, winning the men’s 1,000 in 1:13.96.
“The 1,500 was tough because I had a cold but I’m feeling great today and I’m delighted to have won the gold against such tough competition,” said Lee.
Shimizu, the 500-meter world record holder, added a silver to his 500 gold after finishing 0.05 behind Lee while Takaharu Nakajima clocked 1:14.05 for the bronze.
“This rink is rock hard and my legs were gone even before the 600 mark. I’m really disappointed with the way I faded on the final lap,” said Shimizu.
In the day’s final race, Hirako upped the pace against Kazak Radik Bikchantayev in the final few laps of the 10,000 to time 14:45.49 and was followed by Kesato Miyazaki (14:47.16) and Naoki Yasuda (14:50.43).
In the women’s giant slalom, Reina Umehara clocked the fastest time in both runs to claim victory.
Umehara, giant slalom champion at last year’s national championships, opened up a 1.27-second lead after her first run and went on to widen the gap and took the gold with an overall time of 1:53.17 at the Owani piste.
Hiromi Yumoto picked up her second silver in three days in 1:55.33 while Noriko Fukushima completed the host nation’s podium sweep with a time of 1:55.42.
Meanwhile, the women’s ice hockey game between South Korea and Kazakstan was abandoned after the South Koreans’ repeated protests over the officiating.
Game officials brought a halt to the game at Misawa Ice Arena after a South Korean protest lasted more than the allowable limit of two minutes following a collision between its goaltender and a Kazak player at 3:46 into the second period. South Korea was trailing 19-0 at the time.
The officials ruled the game was won by Kazakstan 19-0 as the country finished the tournament with three wins and one draw.
But the anger turned to jubilation after Japan’s shock 5-4 win over China in the final game of the tournament.
Kumiko Aoki beat Chinese goalie Jian Limei to score a dramatic winner with 2:30 left in the game after China battled back from 3-0 and 4-2 down with four third-period goals in the space of 12 minutes.
The victory — the Japanese women’s first-ever in 17 meetings over 11 years against China — brought the host the silver with a 3-1 record behind Kazakstan (3-0-1). China settled for bronze at 2-1-1.
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