After crashing in the Ladies 1000m on Saturday, Nao Kodaira (JPN) hit back with a personal-best 36.53 seconds to grab gold in the 500m at the Calgary Olympic Oval on Sunday.
World champion Kodaira took the ice in the final pair against world record holder and Olympic champion Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR).
Kodaira had the fastest opener of the field (10.19 seconds) and coming from the inner corner, she had a big gap over Lee on the back stretch.
Lee had opened in 10.35 seconds and was unable to catch Kodaira in the final inner corner, finishing in 36.86 seconds to take silver.
Kodaira enjoyed the race, although she was still suffering from her 1000m crash.
“I had a little pain in my neck, but that did not really matter,” she said. “Today I skated like a sort of a robot-cat. But it still is a personal best so that’s good.
“Now I’m going to enjoy the podium and then there’s always a new challenge.”
Sang-Hwa Lee’s 2013 world record is 36.36 seconds. Will Kodaira be able to break that next week in Salt Lake City?
“I don’t know. First I have to get rid of my neck pain and then we’ll see.”
Kodaira and Lee were the only ones to break the 37-second barrier in Calgary. Arisa Go (JPN) took bronze in 37.06, breaking her own personal best by 0.64 seconds.
It was Go’s second career podium in the World Cup after her bronze medal in Heerenveen last month.
“I experience the sport in a different way emotionally,” Go explained, referring to her improvement on last season.
“I’ve also become stronger physically. After this summer’s training, my body was completely different.”
With a perfect record of five wins and 500 points, Kodaira leads the 500m World Cup standings. Lee is second with 350 points and Vanessa Herzog (AUT) third with 285. The Austrian finished fifth in a personal best of 37.30 in Calgary.