CALGARY, ALBERTA – Defending champion Miho Takagi won the 500-meter race by a wide margin to claim the lead in the women’s competition on Saturday, the first day of the World Allround Speed Skating Championships.
Martina Sablikova will go into the final day of the tournament in second place, after the four-time gold medalist from the Czech Republic posted a world record in the 3,000 meters, the second race of the day at the 1998 Olympic Oval.
Takagi opened her campaign by clocking 37.22 in the 500 to finish 1.24 seconds ahead of six-time women’s allround champion Ireen Wust of the Netherlands.
In the 3,000, Takagi crossed the line in 4 minutes, 0.16 second for eighth place. Sablikova cruised to a record 3:53.31 for the win, after she finished the 500 in 13th place.
“I can’t say that they were my best races, but I was pretty much able to accomplish what I was aiming for,” Takagi said. “I need to do my best in the race I have in front of me (on the final day).”
Takagi won silver in the 1,500 meters at the World Single Distance Championships last month.
Patrick Roest of the Netherlands leads the men’s field after finishing second in the 500 and winning the 5,000. Riku Tsuchiya sits in ninth place, and Ryosuke Tsuchiya in 12th.
Skaters compete over four distances during the two-day tournament, with the final rankings based on their times in each race. The women’s tournament features races in the 500, 3,000, 1,500 and 5,000, while the men skate 500, 5,000, 1,500 and 10,000.