While Nao Kodaira (JPN) rules the Ladies 500m, her compatriot Miho Takagi is queen in the ‘Race of the Kings’. On Saturday in Salt Lake City, Takagi maintained her immaculate record in the 1500m World Cup, taking her fourth gold this season. Marrit Leenstra (NED) and Yekaterina Shikhova (RUS) took silver and bronze respectively.
Leenstra had set the bar in the eighth of 10 pairings when she raced against Shikhova. The 28-year-old Dutch skater could not match the national record of 1 minute and 52.06 seconds she set last week in Calgary, but 1:52.31 was more than half a second faster than her pair mate, who set a Russian record of 1:52.86.
Takagi took the ice in the final pairing versus Lotte van Beek (NED).
The 23-year-old Japanese skater was fractionally faster than Leenstra had been at the 300m, 700m and 1100m marks, and eventually made the difference in the last 400m. With 29.6 Takagi was the only one to pull off a sub-30 final lap, while Leenstra clocked the second-fastest final lap in 30.2.
Takagi’s pair mate Van Beek was nowhere to be seen when the Japanese skater finished. The Dutch skater, who was marking her 26th birthday, finished 19th in 1:57.10.
Takagi leads the World Cup ranking with the full 400 points. Leenstra comes second with 190 points and Shikhova is third with 176 points.