Heerenveen / Netherlands

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Nao Kodaira (JPN) started the new ISU World Cup Speed Skating season in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, where she left off last year: winning the Ladies 500m.

With a time of 37.29 seconds, the Japanese World Champion was way ahead of the rest of the field on Friday. 

Reigning Olympic Champion and world record holder Lee Sang-Hwa (KOR) came second in 37.60 and 26-year-old Russian Angelina Golikova took her first individual career World Cup medal with bronze in 37.67.

With 37.60, Lee missed her own 2015 track record at the Thialf arena in the sixth pairing. She was in first place when Kodaira entered the rink in the penultimate pairing versus compatriot Arisa Go.

Kodaira did not leave any room for doubt. Clocking the fastest opening in 10.2, she crushed Lee’s track record by a third of a second. 

Go finished fifth in 37.70. Austrian Vanessa Herzog took fourth place in 37.68. Saturday’s schedule will feature a second 500m for the ladies.