Shani Davis

Shani Davis wins again as more world records fall in Salt Lake City (video)

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There were fast times and familiar faces on the World Cup podium on the notoriously speedy ice at the Utah Olympic Oval on Saturday.

Shani Davis won the 1000m in 1 minute, 6.88 seconds, the second fastest time in the world since Davis broke the world record four years ago.

It was his second gold medal of the weekend, the first coming Friday in the 1500m. Davis is a two-time Olympic champion in the 1000m and can become the first U.S. man to win three gold medals in one individual Winter Olympic event in Sochi. (So could Shaun White and Seth Wescott.)

“It’s nice to be in the money in the mix with everything and improving each weekend,” Davis told the Dutch outlet NOS.nl in a video interview. “It’s nice to know where I’m at now, so I know where I need to go later.

“That’s all I try to do is try to get better than what I was last year, and it looks like I’m a lot better than that now.”

Countryman Brian Hansen, 23, also added a second individual medal in Salt Lake City on Saturday. He finished third in the 1000m in 1:07.03, taking .61 of a second off his personal best and adding to his second-place finish in the 1500m on Friday.

“I’ve seen Brian Hansen since he was developing when he was young,” Davis said in the Dutch TV interview. “He’s hungry, and he’s ambitious. The sky’s the limit for that guy.”

Davis and Hansen won their third medals of the weekend in the final skate Saturday in the team pursuit. The U.S. took second in 3:37.22, the first time Davis raced a World Cup team pursuit since March 2012.

The Netherlands won the team pursuit in 3:35.60, destroying their week-old world record of 3:37.17.

The second women’s 500m of the weekend featured plenty of excitement and a world record, too.

South Korea’s Lee Sang-Hwa broke her own world record for the third straight race, clocking 36.36. She went 36.57 on Friday.

Heather Richardson finished second, breaking her American record (36.90) and improving on her third place in the first 500m on Friday.

The other top American, Brittany Bowe, finished eighth (37.36) in Saturday’s 500m, but both had plenty of skating left for the 1500m, where Bowe finished second and Richardson third.

Bowe set a national record with a 1:52.45, her first career World Cup medal in the distance. Richardson topped her personal best with 1:52.55.

The Netherlands’ Ireen Wuest, who is the reigning Olympic champion in the 1500m, won in 1:52.08, the fastest time since 2005, when Canada’s Cindy Klassen clocked 1:51.79.

Races conclude Sunday.

Salt Lake City World Cup — Day 2

Women’s 500m — Race 2
1. Lee Sang-Hwa (KOR) 36.36 WR
2. Heather Richardson (USA) 36.90
3. Olga Fatkulina (RUS) 37.13
9. Brittany Bowe (USA) 37.36
13. Lauren Cholewinski (USA) 37.62
21. Elli Ochowicz (USA) 38.52

Men’s 1000m
1. Shani Davis (USA) 1:06.88
2. Kjeld Nuis (NED) 1:07.02
3. Brian Hansen (USA) 1:07.03
6. Mitchell Whitmore (USA) 1:07.52
17. Trevor Marsicano (USA) DQ

Women’s 1500m
1. Ireen Wuest (NED) 1:52.08
2. Brittany Bowe (USA) 1:52.45
3. Heather Richardson (USA) 1:52.55

Men’s Team Pursuit
1. Netherlands 3:35.60 WR
2. USA 3:37.22
3. South Korea 3:37.51

Speed skating World Cup storylines

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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