Miho Takagi

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Who are Japan’s most visible athletes ahead of Tokyo Olympics?

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No surprise, Yuzuru Hanyu garnered the most major TV coverage of any Japanese athlete in 2018.

Nihon Monitor, a media research and analysis company in Japan, reported that the double Olympic champion figure skater received 186 hours, 26 minutes of TV time last year among six major domestic networks.

Other PyeongChang Olympic medalists made the list: figure skater Shoma Uno (fourth, 94 hours) and speed skaters Nao Kodaira (fifth, 87 hours) and Miho Takagi (sixth, 85 hours).

The only athlete in the top eight with Tokyo Olympic hopes was tennis player Naomi Osaka, who ranked third with 118 hours, one spot behind Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani (177 hours).

Three soccer players and yokozuna Hakuhō Shō rounded out the top 10.

Osaka, a 21-year-old born in Osaka to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, has lived in the U.S. since age 3. She won the U.S. Open in September in a memorable final with Serena Williams. She captured the next Grand Slam, the Australian Open in January, to become world No. 1.

“Every time the Japanese press is at a tournament they always talk about the Tokyo Olympics,” Osaka said in June, according to the Times of London.

Osaka just missed the 2016 Rio Games. She was 87th in the world on the rankings cutoff date. The lowest-ranked player to make the Olympic women’s singles field — outside of continental/tripartite/host country representation — was No. 86. Osaka could have been ineligible anyway because she had yet to compete for Japan in Fed Cup.

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Brittany Bowe wins overall bronze at the World Sprint Championships

US Speedskating
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HEERENVEEN, Netherlands – Two-time Olympian Brittany Bowe celebrated her 31st birthday on Sunday by winning a bronze overall medal at the 2019 World Sprint Championships.

All athletes at the event skate two 500m races and two 1000m races. The times for those distances are converted to points using the samalog system, and the skater with the lowest total from all four races wins the championship.

In Saturday’s races, Bowe won gold in the first 1000m with a time of 1:14.60. She holds the track record in the 1000m at the Thialf Ice Arena (1:13.24) where earlier in the day she finished fifth in her first 500m event (37.89).

Bowe’s second day of races got her two silver medals; 500m (37.67) and 1000m (1:14.64). Her total time for all events (150.18) earned her a bronze medal for the overall event.

For the ladies, Japanese skaters Nao Kodaira and Miho Takagi took the overall first and second spots with a combined time of 149.665 and 150.050 respectively. Kodaira is the current world record holder in the 1000m (1:12.09).

Full results are here.

Kimi Goetz made her debut appearance at the sprint championships, after switching from short track skating last fall. Her first 500m landed her in 15th (38.49) and in her first 1000m, she finished in 19th (1:17.14). During the second day of racing, Kimi finished 16th in her 500m (38.81) and 16th in her 1000m (1:16.85) to come in 17th overall (154.295).

“I think that each time I go to the starting line, I’m improving my race execution and track patterns,” Goetz said through US Speedskating. “I still have a ton to learn but getting four more races at this level is a great opportunity for me. I have two more competitions left for the season [World Cup Finals mass start and the Calgary Finale], so I’m trying to take advantage of every race opportunity I have.”

This was also the first sprint championships for Brianna Bocox. Bocox’s first 500m time was 39.47 and she finished her 1000m with a time of 1:18.37. In her second 500m, she crossed the line at 39.67 and the 1000m at 1:19.24. Her combined time of 157.945 earned her 22nd overall.

“It was an extremely amazing opportunity to compete at my first World Sprint Championships in Thialf,” Bocox said. “The crowd and venue is one-of-a-kind!

Two-time Olympian Joey Mantia raced the first day of the championship event but decided not to compete the second day due to an ongoing back problem.

“I’ve had some issues with my back this season, on and off, starting in September,” Mantia said. “After getting on the ice for warm-up today, I wasn’t confident that I could race today and not make it worse. So I decided to rest and hopefully be ready for the world cup final in a couple of weeks.”

Russia’s Pavel Kulizhnikov won the overall men’s title (137.390), followed by Japan’s Tatsuya Shinhama (137.805) and Dutch skater Kjeld Nuis (1:37.86).

Both Mantia and Bowe won World Single Distance Championships titles two weeks ago in Inzell, Germany. Mantia is the world champion for the Mass Start and Bowe is the 1000m world champion.

Long track skaters will race in the World Cup Finals at the Utah Olympic Oval, Mar. 9-10. Bowe has won 12 world cup medals and Mantia has won a silver world cup medal this season.

MORE: Joey Mantia wins Mass Start at World Single Distance Championships

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Skater loses gold at world allround championships with stunning fall

AP
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AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a stunning finish to the world allround speed skating championships, Dutchman Patrick Roest won the title Sunday after Sverre Lunde Pedersen of Norway fell in the closing 10,000m race as he was on track for a convincing overall victory.

Video is here.

Roest was some eight seconds behind Pedersen ahead of the 10,000m and, thanks to Pedersen’s fall around 6500m, finished the grueling finale more than 15 seconds faster than the Norwegian.

Pedersen picked himself up off the ice at the temporary, outdoor oval at Amsterdam’s 1928 Olympic Stadium and still managed to come back to beat nine-time allround champion Sven Kramer in their head-to-head battle to finish second overall.

But he lost so much time that a title that was his for the taking slipped through his fingers and went to Roest.

Afterward, Pedersen sat at the side of the oval with his head in his hands as Kramer gave him a consoling pat on the back.

“I am almost never falling,” Pedersen said. “I don’t know what to say.

“What can I say? It’s a pity for all of us that something like this happens. But that’s how it is.”

In a changing of the guard, Pedersen’s fall handed the allround title to Roest, Kramer’s 22-year-old teammate and training partner.

“I can’t believe it,” Roest said. “Of course it’s a shame that Sverre fell. You wouldn’t wish that on him. But it’s very cool to be world champion allround.”

Dutchman Marcel Bosker took third place in the overall standings. Kramer finished fourth after skating 14:05.70 in the 10,000m, his slowest time in that event by more than 20 seconds in more than a decade on the top senior international level.

“I did not feel well physically this weekend,” Kramer said, according to the International Skating Union.

Kramer was going for his record-extending 10th straight world allround title (not counting the editions he missed in 2011 and 2014).

On Saturday, Miho Takagi became the first Japanese woman to win a world allround title after beating defending champion Ireen Wust in a thrilling 1500m.

The 1500m win was partial revenge for Takagi, who was relegated to silver by Wust over the same distance at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

“I am very, very happy,” Takagi said. “I am proud.”

The world title capped a great season for Takagi, who won an Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit when Japan beat the Netherlands in the final.

“She has shown all season that she’s really good,” Wust said. “She has more speed than me.”

Wust won the closing 5000m to finish second overall, falling just short in her chase for a seventh allround title. Countrywoman Annouk van der Weijden ended third.

The championships are a test of skaters’ all-around prowess, with races over 500m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m for women and 500m, 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m for men. They have been held officially since 1893.

They also were a test of how they coped with warm and rainy conditions that left puddles all over the oval at a championships being staged outdoors for the first time since 2001.

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MORE: Best speed skating moments from PyeongChang Olympics