Olympics / Winter Olympics / Speedskating

Japan moves into women's speedskating team pursuit semis

Kyodo

World record-holding gold-medal favorite Japan advanced to the semifinals of the women’s team pursuit at the Pyeongchang Winter Games on Monday.

Miho Takagi, who won individual Olympic silver in the 1,500-meter event and bronze over 1,000 in South Korea, her elder sister Nana Takagi and Ayano Sato clocked 2 minutes, 56.09 seconds to place second in the quarterfinals at Gangneung Oval.

The Netherlands posted an Olympic record of 2:55.61, while Canada (2:59.02) was third and the United States fourth (2:59.75).

Japan will race Canada, and the Netherlands skates alongside the U.S. in the semis on Wednesday.

“The time deficit (behind the Netherlands) is not something we need to be too bothered about, we think we can post the same time that they did so there is no need to be pessimistic,” said Miho Takagi. “We can regroup and go into the next race with confidence.”

The Takagi sisters and Sato won a World Cup meet in Salt Lake City with a world-record time of 2:50.87 on Dec. 8, rewriting the world mark that Japan set the previous week by 3.01 seconds.

It was the third time the Japanese team had won a World Cup event in a world-record time in as many meets this season.

The same lineup broke Canada’s 2009 world record with a time of 2:55.77 in the Netherlands on Nov. 10 before the Takagi sisters and Ayaka Kikuchi clocked 2:53.88 on Dec. 2 in Calgary, Alberta.

Japan’s Shane Williamson, Shota Nakamura and Seitaro Ichinohe missed out on a place in the Pyeongchang men’s team pursuit semifinals on Sunday.

They could only manage fifth place in 3:41.62 and will compete against Italy in the race to determine fifth and sixth.