Salt Lake City / USA

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Nao Kodaira (JPN) blamed high air pressure for her missing a 500m world record on Friday, but she made amends by skating the fastest ever Ladies 1000m in 1 minute, 12.09 seconds in Salt Lake City on Sunday.

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Ten national records had already been broken in the race when Kodaira took the ice in the final pairing versus compatriot Miho Takagi (JPN).

Yekaterina Shikhova (RUS) led the field with 1:13.23, shaving 0.17 seconds off Olga Fatkulina’s Russian national record. Fatkulina herself clocked 1:13.54 to end up fifth.

World record holder Brittany Bowe (USA), on her way back after more than a year of struggles because of a severe concussion in 2016, skated 1:33.55 to finish sixth. 

Kodaira, starting from the inner lane, quickly left Takagi behind. The Japanese sprinter was 0.3 seconds ahead of Bowe’s record pace at the 200m mark, and 0.4 at the 600m mark.

For short distance specialist Kodaira the final lap was the toughest, but she managed to control the damage and stay 0.09 ahead of Bowe’s 2015 Salt Lake City world record.

Kodaira was not complaining about the air pressure any longer. 

“It was the same today, but I could control my speed well in this 1000m,” she said. “I was tired in the final lap and it was really tough. I had to do it on my own and I thought to myself, ‘Just go.’”

Takagi finished in a personal best 1:12.63 to take the silver. 

“Shit,” Takagi said with a big smile. “I could skate faster. I made a few mistakes.”

On whether she would be able to beat Kodaira on a good day, she said: “Yes, in PyeongChang (at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in February).”  

Shikhova, who took the bronze, praised Kodaira’s performance: “She did it perfectly, all the race, from the beginning to the end. Congratulations, she’s a really big athlete.” 

After three gold medals and one race in which she crashed out, Kodaira leads the 1000m World Cup ranking with 305 points. Takagi is second with 240 points and Heather Bergsma (USA), who was absent in Salt lake City, is third with 215 points.

Full results and classifications. Follow the discussion on social media by using #WCSpeed and #SpeedSkating and watch the live stream on the ISU Skating Channel.