Denis Kuzin

Shani Davis

Shani Davis, Heather Richardson make podium at World Sprint Championships

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Shani Davis and Heather Richardson won silver and bronze, respectively, at the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, the final major international event before the Olympics.

Davis used the event as a warm-up before Sochi. The World Sprint Championships consist of two 500m races and two 1000m races over two days.

In the 1000m, Olympic champion Davis and world champion Denis Kuzin swapped one-two finishes. Davis placed 11th and 14th in the two 500m races. He finished behind repeat champion Dutchman Michel Mulder overall.

“It’s more just practice, going through the steps of competing at a higher level and leading into Sochi,” Davis told Dutch broadcaster NOS in a video interview before Sunday’s final races. “This will be the biggest time in between races, from my Olympic Trials til Sochi. I wanted to break it up a little bit, have a high-level competition.”

Davis’ 1000m results were most notable as he is the two-time reigning Olympic champion in the event. Davis won three of four World Cup 1000m races this season with Kuzin failing to make the podium in all four.

The Kazakh Kuzin had never finished better than fifth in a World Cup 1000m before he won the World Championship at the Sochi Olympic oval on March 22. His win Saturday proved that world title was not a single-skate fluke.

In the women’s competition, Richardson was unable to successfully defend her sprint championship from last year.

China’s Yu Jing took gold, followed by the countrywoman Zhang Hong and Richardson. Richardson, a threat for as many as four medals in Sochi, won the final 1000m, took third in both 500m races and fourth in the earlier 1000m.

Richardson edged Yu for the title last year in Salt Lake City. The competition this year was missing South Korean Lee Sang-hwa, the heavy favorite for Olympic gold in the 500m.

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