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Japanese speedskaters set national marks in long track competition

Kyodo

Nao Kodaira, Miho Takagi and Tatsuya Shinhama all set national records on the first day of the ISU long track World Cup speed skating finals on Saturday.

Kodaira slashed 0.03 second off her own mark when she clocked 36.47 seconds to win the first women’s 500-meter race at the Utah Olympic Oval, known for its fast ice due to the high altitude.

“Result aside, I feel like I could’ve done something more in the 500 meters,” said Kodaira, who placed third in the 1,000.

“The 1,000 was a good race because I was able to pace myself watching Takagi’s back. I want to focus on my race without feeling too pressured on the final day (tomorrow),” she said.

In the women’s 1,000, a race won by American Brittany Bowe in a world record time of 1:11.61, Takagi was paired with Kodaira and finished with the second-best time of 1:11.71.

The previous Japan record — also a world record — of 1:12.09 was set by Kodaira at the same rink in December 2017. Takagi took the lead in the competition when she broke Kodaira’s record but the mark was short-lived as Bowe followed with her record skate on home ice.

“I’m glad I improved my (personal best) time by this much and edged out Kodaira in the end. I felt like there’s a path forward even in the 1,000 so it was fun,” Takagi said.

Earlier in day, in the men’s 500, 22-year-old Shinhama crossed the finish line in 33.83 seconds, 0.15 second under the world record, but his time was surpassed by Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia only minutes later. Kulizhnikov clocked 33.61 for gold.

“I’m happy I went under 34 seconds. It’s unimaginable. It’s disappointing that (Kulizhnikov) rewrote the record so quickly but I’ll work harder and aim for a new world record,” said Shinhama, who finished second.

Japanese compatriot Yuma Murakami took third in the same race.

The season finale concludes Sunday with six events — 500, 1,500 and mass start for both men and women.

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