Nao Kodaira (JPN) added another World Cup 500m gold to her tally on the first day of the Salt Lake City World Cup. The 31-year-old World Champion rushed to a Japanese record of 36.50 seconds, leaving world record holder Lee Sang-Hwa (KOR) 0.21 behind in the final pairing. Arisa Go (JPN) took bronze in 37.17.
Kodaira and Lee were the only ladies to break the 37-second barrier in the first A Division event at the Utah Olympic Oval on Friday.
“Unfortunately the air pressure was high, so no world record,” Kodaira said after the race.
The Japanese ace will have another go at the world record on Saturday. Last week in Calgary, Canada, Kodaira struggled with neck pain after a crash in the 1000m.
“That’s all over. I’m feeling 100 percent now,” she said.
Lee did not have much time for chit-chat, but she was happy with her performance. With 10.26 she had the fastest opener of the field, 0.01 faster than Kodaira.
“I’m getting closer (to Kodaira) every week,” the Korean said.
The Ladies 500m started with a nasty crash, when Janine Smit (NED) slipped away in the final corner and hit the boards hard. She did not finish, but did not seem severely injured.
Her pair-mate Kaylin Irvine (CAN), who was hindered by Smit’s crash, got another chance in a re-skate. With 38.52 she eventually finished in 18th place.