HEERENVEEN, NETHERLANDS – Japan triumphed in the women’s team pursuit event at the Speedskating World Cup on Friday, setting a world record by 0.02 seconds.
Miho Takagi, her older sister Nana and Ayano Sato breezed to victory with a time of 2 minutes, 55.77 seconds, breaking Canada’s 2009 record that was set at altitude in Calgary, Alberta.
The Netherlands (2:59.06) finished runner-up and Canada (3:00.65) earned the bronze medal at the meet, which is also a qualification competition for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
Miho Takagi, who began the race by opening up a lead against the Netherlands, said she sees each individual improving due to summer training.
“This was our first race of the season, and we weren’t aiming (to break the record), but we finished with an amazing time,” she said. “We have gained experience from practicing during the summer. Each one of us is improving.”
Her sister expressed hope for future competitions, saying the team can continue to finish with these kinds of results.
“We found we have the power to finish with a time like this, and we will continue to do so,” Nana said.
In other races, Nao Kodaira topped the podium in the women’s 500 meters in 37.29 for her 10th world cup victory, while two-time defending Olympic champion Lee Sang-hwa (37.60) of South Korea won silver and Russia’s Angelina Golikova (37.67) took bronze.
“It feels good to finish first. I want (this win) to boost my confidence,” said the 31-year-old Kodaira, who extended her winning streak to 17 500-meter races.
“I had a personal best through 100 meters, and thought I wasn’t far from setting a record. (I didn’t) but for the first race of the season, that was pretty good.”
Arisa Go (37.70) and Erina Kamiya (37.95) finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
In the men’s 500 meters, Ryohei Haga missed the podium, placing fourth in 34.87. Norway’s Havard Lorentzen (34.69) claimed the title, followed by Germany’s Nico Ihle (34.78) and Kai Verbij (34.84) of the Netherlands.