SALT LAKE CITY - Miho Takagi ended the 2018-2019 World Cup in style on Sunday, setting a world record on her way to winning the competition’s final 1,500-meter race of the season.
Takagi clocked 1 minute, 49.83 seconds to claim the World Cup Final victory on the Utah Olympic Oval ice that is known to have produced some of the season’s fastest times due to its high-altitude location.
The 24-year-old became the first woman to go sub-1:50, slashing just over a second from the mark set by American Heather Bergsma in 2015. She claimed her 10th career World Cup victory and eighth over 1,500 meters.
“I’m very happy I was able to deliver all of my strength in this one race,” said Takagi, who won three medals — one of each type — at last year’s Pyeongchang Olympics.
“My coach told me that I could aim for the 1 minute, 49 second range, so I was able to skate with a positive mindset.”
Takagi crossed the line 0.48 second ahead of American Brittany Bowe, who held the world record briefly before the Japanese bettered her time.
“I’m still not completely satisfied. There are still things I can achieve,” Takagi said.
Japanese speedskaters claimed three more wins at the final major international event of the season.
A day after rewriting her own national record, Nao Kodaira sprinted to another victory in the women’s 500 meters. She finished the race in 36.492, beating Russia’s Olga Fatkulina by 0.34 second.
However, the 32-year-old Pyeongchang Olympic 500-meter gold medalist was not satisfied as she had her eye on a world record in Salt Lake City. She won Saturday’s race with a 36.47 second personal best.
“My body was moving well during the warm up but I didn’t finish as well as I wanted. This is the best that I could do at the moment,” she said.
Later in the day, Tatsuya Shinhama won the men’s 500 in a national record time. The win was his third in the World Cup, achieved with a 33.790-second skate.
South Korea’s Cha Min-kyu took second at 34.030 and Japan’s Yuma Murakami was third.
Ryosuke Tsuchiya claimed his first World Cup victory when he skated to first in the men’s mass start, clocking 7:38.390. Belarusian Vitaly Mikhailov took second and Dutch skater Simon Schouten third.