Japan's Olympic title defense in the women's speedskating team pursuit ended in heartbreak Tuesday at the Beijing Games after Nana Takagi fell on the last bend of the final to hand the gold medal to Canada.

The three-woman team of Ayano Sato, Miho Takagi and her older sister Nana came into the final at the National Speed Skating Oval looking to repeat as Olympic champions after winning four years ago in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

They were on course for gold after leading at every split, but with Canada pushing to close the gap, disaster struck with the finish line in sight when the elder Takagi lost her footing coming around the last bend and careened into the wall.

The Canadian team of Ivanie Blondin, Valerie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann finished in an Olympic record time of 2 minutes, 53.44 seconds.

The final Japanese skater eventually crossed the line 11.03 seconds later.

Canada's time erased the previous Olympic record of 2:53.61 set by Japan three days earlier in the quarterfinals.

The Netherlands rounded out the podium, clocking 2:56.86 to beat the Russian Olympic Committee by 1.80 seconds in the bronze medal race.

Japan's Olympic team captain Miho collected her third silver medal of the games, after finishing second in the women's 1,500 and 500. She has just the 1,000 remaining to try to get her Beijing gold.

Japan advanced to the gold medal race with a big semifinal win over the ROC earlier in the day, finishing 6.99 seconds ahead in 2 minutes, 58.93 seconds.