U.S. speed skaters were spectacular on fast North American ice to start the World Cup season, but how they fared on slower European ice, beginning this weekend, would offer a more accurate gauge of their Olympic prospects.
Brittany Bowe and Shani Davis continued to win in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Saturday.
The four-time Olympic medalist Davis took a 1000m in 1 minute, 8.66 seconds, beating surprise Italian Mirko Giacomo Nenzi by .24 of a second. Nenzi had never before finished in the top 10 of a World Cup 1000m. The race was missing Davis’ top competition so far this season, the Netherlands’ Kjeld Nuis and American Brian Hansen.
Davis won his third straight 1000m to start the season. He could become the first U.S. man to win a single Winter Olympic event three straight times if he captures the 1000m in Sochi.
Davis was fifth in the 1500m on Friday after taking second and first at the first two 1500m races of the season in Calgary, Alberta, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Bowe won the 1500m in 1:57.28, nearly five seconds slower than her silver medal-winning time on fast Salt Lake City ice two weeks ago. The Floridian had finished 10th and 11th in earlier 500m races Friday and Saturday.
It must be noted that Bowe beat a field that did not include any woman who had made a World Cup or World Championships 1500m podium in the last two years.
South Korean world record holder Lee Sang-Hwa won her sixth straight 500m, in 37.32, to open the season, while world sprint champion Heather Richardson took fifth.
Russians Artyom Kuznetsov and Dmitry Lobkov went one-two in the men’s 500m, separated by .01 of a second. Two-time U.S. Olympian Tucker Fredricks was sixth.
The Astana World Cup concludes Sunday.
Astana Day 2
Women’s 500m — Race 2
1. Lee Sang-Hwa (KOR) — 37.32
2. Jenny Wolf (GER) — 37.66
3. Olga Fatkulina (RUS) — 37.81
5. Heather Richardson (USA) — 38.01
11. Brittany Bowe (USA) — 38.47
12. Lauren Cholewinski (USA) — 38.53
14. Elli Ochowicz (USA) — 38.60
Men’s 500m — Race 1
1. Artyom Kuznetsov (RUS) — 34.85
2. Dmitry Lobkov (RUS) — 34.86
3. Ronald Mulder (NED) — 34.87
6. Tucker Fredricks (USA) — 35.02
10. Mitchell Whitmore (USA) — 35.11
1. Brittany Bowe (USA) — 1:57.28
2. Yuliya Skokova (RUS) — 1:57.70
3. Brittany Schussler (CAN) — 1:57.78
10. Jilleanne Rookard (USA) — 1:59.17
1. Shani Davis (USA) — 1:08.66
2. Mirko Giacomo Nenzi (ITA) — 1:08.90
3. Michel Mulder (NED) — 1:09.02
13. Trevor Marsicano (USA) — 1:09.94
14. Mitchell Whitmore (USA) — 1:10.05