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Nao Kodaira records first 500-meter World Cup victory of season

Kyodo

Nao Kodaira won the women’s 500-meter race in the speedskating World Cup on Saturday, bouncing back from her third-place finish last week that saw her 23-race winning streak come to an end.

Kodaira, the reigning Olympic champion, crossed the line in 37.775 seconds at Arena Lodowa to win her first World Cup event of the season. Olga Fatkulina claimed silver in 37.973, while fellow Russian Daria Kachanova took bronze.

Arisa Go and Maki Tsuji were sixth and 10th in Saturday’s race, respectively.

“I can’t say for certain that I was able to perform at my best today,” said Kodaira, a 33-year-old sprint specialist.

“But I was able to regain confidence that I could do well if I skate like I always do.”

Last week, Kodaira lost a World Cup 500-meter race for the first time in four seasons when she earned bronze in the season opener, which Fatkulina won, in Minsk, Belarus.