Heerenveen / Netherlands

Miho Takagi (JPN) handed Japan a third gold in the Ladies 1500m at the opening leg of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Heerenveen on Saturday. Takagi was the only one to break the 1 minute, 55-second-barrier, finishing in 1:54.68. The Dutch ladies completed the podium line-up, with Jorien ter Mors (NED) taking silver in 1:55.44 and Lotte van Beek grabbing bronze in 1:56.34.

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Takagi could not explain what the secret of the Japanese ladies is. “Ask Johan,” she joked, referring to Japan coach Johan de Wit (NED).

Jorien ter Mors was happy with her performance: “It was OK, not super but I’m satisfied,” she said. “I suffered from a back injury last week and I was not able to train for three days, so this is quite good.”

Ter Mors was not worried about the Japanese ladies being way ahead of the field at the moment: “We don’t have to be top just yet. It’s the Olympic Games that count.”

Takagi, for her part, was not worried about decline towards February, when the Games open in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea: “I had an almost perfect race, but there’s still room for improvement,” the 23-year-old said. “We just keep on working and getting better every race.”

Full results and classifications here.