Heather Richardson

Heather Richardson, Brittany Bowe go 1-2 in Astana 1000m

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U.S. dominance in the 1000m was prevalent in Astana, Kazakhstan, this weekend.

Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe were the top two finishers Sunday, one day after Olympic champion Shani Davis took the men’s 1000m.

Richardson, the reigning World Cup champion in the distance, clocked a track record 1 minute, 14.22 seconds to grab her first medal on the final day of competition in the Kazakh capital. Bowe, who won the 1,500m on Saturday, came in .56 of  a second behind. Russian Olga Fatkulina, the reigning world champion, took third.

Richardson and Bowe have made the podium in all three World Cup 1,000m races this season. In Astana, they consolidated their results from fast North American ice in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Calgary, Alberta, in November. The conditions in Kazakhstan were closer to what’s expected at the Sochi Olympic oval.

Top Dutch skaters Ireen Wuest and Lotte van Beek sat out the Astana World Cup.

In other action Sunday, Japan’s Keiichiro Nagashima won the second men’s 500m race in 34.69 ahead of South Korean Olympic champion Mo Tae-Bum and Russian Artyom Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov had won the first 500m on Saturday.

American Tucker Fredricks finished sixth and fifth in the 500m races.

Dutch favorite Sven Kramer won the 10,000m.

The speed skating World Cup moves to Berlin later this week.

Astana Day 3

Women’s 1000m
1. Heather Richardson (USA) 1:14.22
2. Brittany Bowe (USA) 1:14.78
3. Olga Fatkulina (RUS) 1:15.18

Men’s 500m — Race 2
1. Keiichiro Nagashima (JPN) 34.69
2. Mo Tae-Bum (KOR) 34.87
3. Artyom Kuznetsov (RUS) 34.92
5. Tucker Fredricks (USA) 35.00
15. Mitchell Whitmore (USA) 35.33

Men’s 10,000m
1. Sven Kramer (NED) 13:02.38
2. Alexis Contin (FRA) 13:14.64
3. Patrick Beckert (GER) 13:18.73
6. Jonathan Kuck (USA) 13:23.54

Speed skating season storylines

Lindsey Vonn wins No. 76 in biggest rout of comeback

Lindsey Vonn
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Lindsey Vonn gapped the field like never before during her comeback, and never before away from her favorite course in Canada, running away with a World Cup downhill by 1.51 seconds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Saturday.

Vonn notched her 76th World Cup victory, moving 10 behind the record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

“Every win for me is more special than the last,” Vonn said.

She’s won by larger margins three times in her World Cup career — by 1.95, 1.73 and 1.68 seconds, all at her favorite downhill course in Lake Louise, Alberta, and all before her February 2013 World Championships crash and two major right knee surgeries that kept her from defending her Olympic downhill title in Sochi.

Swiss Fabienne Suter was second Saturday, followed by German Viktoria Rebensburg. Full results are here.

Swiss Lara Gut placed 14th, which meant Vonn increased her lead from 45 points to 127 points in the standings for the World Cup overall title, the biggest prize in the sport this season with no World Championships or Olympics.

That race will likely not be decided until the World Cup Finals in a little more than one month.

Vonn won her ninth World Cup race this season, matching her total from 2008-09, the campaign that set her up to be the Alpine skiing star of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic season. Her best total was 12 from the 2011-12 season.

Vonn has won 11 of her last 12 World Cup starts in speed races (downhill and super-G) and can clinch her eighth World Cup downhill season title in the next downhill in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, next Saturday.

That would break her tie with Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Pröll for most titles in one discipline by a female skier. It would match the record for all skiers with Stenmark, who took eight giant slalom and eight slalom titles.

But first Vonn will try to inch closer to Stenmark’s wins record in a Garmisch-Partenkirchen super-G on Sunday (4:45 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Live Extra).

MORE: U.S. Olympian podiums in first race on 2018 Olympic course

Amanda Kessel ‘dream come true’ in University of Minnesota return

Amanda Kessel
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Olympic silver medalist Amanda Kessel recorded two assists in her first game in nearly two years, coming back from a concussion for the University of Minnesota on Friday night.

“I think I’d regret it if I didn’t get back to this point,” Kessel said after a 3-0 win over North Dakota, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It’s pretty much a dream come true.”

Kessel, 24, last played in the Sochi Olympic gold-medal game and then sat out nearly two years with symptoms from a concussion reportedly suffered before the Winter Games. Coach Brad Frost said in July that Kessel wouldn’t play this season, ending her college career.

But in August, new doctors gave Kessel hope she would play again.

On Friday, she skated on the Golden Gophers’ top line after the school’s medical staff got second and third opinions before clearing her to play, according to the newspaper.

“If I was going to get back to playing, I was going to be 100 percent healthy and be able to get in there,” Kessel said, according to the Pioneer Press. “I felt great being able to get in corners and get hit and stuff like that.”

Kessel, the 2012-13 NCAA Player of the Year for the undefeated national champion, said she wasn’t 100 percent in “game shape” and that she felt like a rookie, but that she’s ready to challenge herself in the final month and a half of her senior season.

“I don’t think I’ve heard it that loud since we won the national championship here [on March 22],” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “So many people were just so excited to see her work her way back to where she is now.”

MORE: How Amanda Kessel became a star for U.S. hockey team