ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships -Obihiro (JPN)
Korean skaters Sang-Hwa Lee (ladies) and Kyou-Hyuk Lee (men) were crowned the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Champions of 2010.
The World Sprint Championships took place in the new ice hall that was opened in Obihiro on Hokkaido (JPN) in September.
28 skaters participated. Jenny Wolf was expected to win this 500, as nobody but the absent Wang had been faster than her at times. When Wolf skated, with two pairs to go, she set a track record of 38.31, but the lap looked a bit careful, possibly due to the fall of her team mate Monique Angermüller on the brittle ice shortly before her. That gave an opportunity to Korean Sang-Hwa Lee, more than once on the podium, and Lee had with 27.7 the fastest last lap and finished in 38.19. The four Japanese skaters finished in places 3, 4, 6 and 7, with Sayuri Yoshii in bronze position with 38.74 and Nao Kodaira only 0.01 behind that.
Wolf was the first of the medal winners in the 500m to race the 1000m. She had the fastest opening in 17.66, then a 28.1 lap, but her last lap 32.5 brought her to 1:18.32, not the leading time, but as a 500m specialist she was reasonably happy with that 1000m, more than with the 500m. Sayuri Yoshii didn’t have as fast an opening (18.12), but after 28.2 she kept skating well through the last lap (30.9), and her 1:17.26 was a new track record. She had overtaken Wolf in the ranking with 77.370 versus 77.470 points.
Sang-Hwa Lee raced in pair with Nao Kodaira. Lee opened 17.7 like Wolf, and also had it followed by a 28.1 lap. All or nothing proved ok, her 1:17.80 was enough to keep her in the lead after day 1, with 77.080 points. Nao Kodaira overtook her in the last lap. Kodaira’s 1:17.64 was good for bronze at the 1000m, and kept her close in the rankings behind Lee, Yoshii and Wolf. Angermüller, after her fall in the first race, took silver in the 1000m with 1:17.59.
Jenny Wolf with last inner in the second 500m skated a bit better than the day before. Especially her opening was fast, 10.17. Still, she didn’t have her normal power in the lap, and she finished in 38.24, leaving the track record to Lee. The Korean finished in second place, 38.37 and she easily kept her lead overall with 115.450 points. Sayuri Yoshii dropped to third overall. Her 38.92 was 6th place. The third place on the 500m went to Shuang Zhang from China. On the first day Zhang was paired with Angermüller and hindered by her fall, but declined her right to reskate. In order to win the title, Wolf would have to make up over 0.5 second to Sang-Hwa Lee.
In the final 1000m, Sayuri Yoshii skated even better than in her first. She sharpened the track record to 1:17.08 and her first full lap was 28.1. This brought her to the overall podium, which was a moving experience for the 25-year-old Japanese. Yekaterina Malysheva (RUS) finished her tournament with a strong 1:17.50 and took the distance silver, Nao Kodaira was third in 1:17.99. But the main race was between Jenny Wolf and Sang-Hwa Lee. Lee secured her title right from the start; 17.63 was her opening, 28.1 the lap, where Wolf could only bring 28.4. A final 32.5 lap was also faster than Wolf’s 32.7. The 1:18.26 was more than enough to bring her the world title with 154.580 points. Wolf came to 1:18.80 and 155.110 points, which was enough for the bronze overall. Sayuri Yoshii had 154.830 points and had come between them.
Sang-Hwa Lee, for who it was the first podium finish in the World Sprints, is the first female Korean World champion. Jenny Wolf said that she had seen these races as a period of training, one good exercise before the Olympics.
In spite of the absence of some top skaters, there were 39 participants, 8 more than last year. Favourite here was Korean Kyou-Hyuk Lee, the champion of the past 2007 and 2008 with keen competition coming from Keiichiro Nagashima (JPN), last year’s silver medalist, among others.
The first to skate a track record was Finnish Mika Poutala, 35.26. In the next pair, just like a year earlier, Nagashima skated a 35.01. His pairmate Kang-Seok Lee clocked 35.15. Fengtong Yu (CHN), last year’s number 3, had a disappointing time, but Kyou-Hyuk Lee and Ronald Mulder (NED) raced each other in the last pair and Lee succeeded in getting the distance bronze with 35.22, Mulder was just behind the podium with 35.24. There was a personal best time for Samuel Schwarz (GER): 35.75 and American Parker Vance equaled his personal top time of 35.62.
In the 1000m, Beorn Nijenhuis (NED) was the first to set the track record below 1:10, 1:09.73, which would bring him to the podium on the distance, for the first time after two years. He overtook Kang-Seok Lee, who needed 1:10.85 and gathered 70.575 points. Samuel Schwarz took the bronze medal for the first time in his career, with 1:10.20. Keiichiro Nagashima’s 1:10.99 after a flashing start brought him to a total of 70.505 points, in the top three after the first day, as Kyou-Hyuk Lee and Ronald Mulder were paired again with better results. Lee won in 1:09.44, taking over the track record from Nijenhuis and reaching 69.940 points after the first day. Mulder’s 1:10.48 was the fifth time of the day, but his combined points were 70.480, which brought him ahead of Nagashima and Nijenhuis.
Lee: “This competition is just a final test for Olympic Teams. Korean people are watching me, so I need to win.”
In the second 500m, Nagashima raced against Kang-Seok Lee, and this time it was Lee who had the fastest time, 35.11. Nagashima came to 35.19. Kyou-Hyuk Lee secured himself another podium spot, silver this time, by posting 35.17 and Mulder dropped out of the top-3 after 35.55. Spectacular was the fourth place of Mika Poutala. He was on his way to a strong time when he fell in the last meters. He glided towards the timing device and miraculously managed to dive over it without hitting it. His 35.32 with fall was still a good time.
After two titles in a row, last year Kyou-Hyuk Lee fell on the last distance. But this year he seemed more stable than ever. On the last distance, he took the victory once more, with 1:09.60. He was paired with Kang-Seok Lee and the two Koreans cooperated well so that Kang-Seok could perform better than in his first 1000m. He came to 1:10.45, fourth place on the distance and it kept him second in the ranking with 140.910 points. Nagashima’s 1:10.74 was good enough to bring him the overall bronze, at the cost of Ronald Mulder, who finished fourth in his debut at the World Sprint Championships. Mulder brought a medal home: his 1:10.36 brought him bronze in the distance, and also his team mate Lars Elgersma brought a medal home with 1:09.73. Samuel Schwarz, a day earlier good for a medal in the 1000m, fell at the start and just managed to get up and continue to finish top-16 overall and secure another start position for the German team for next year.
For details, including complete results see http://www.isu.org.
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