Takagi 6th as Schouten of the Netherlands earns 3000
Japan team captain Miho Takagi hit the ice on Saturday in the first of her five speed skating events at the Beijing Winter Games, finishing sixth in the women’s 3,000 meters won by Irene Schouten of the Netherlands in a Olympic record time.
Racing against Italy’s Francesca Lollobrigida in the 10th and final pair, the 29-year-old Schouten circled the National Speed Skating Oval in 3 minutes and 56.93 seconds to claim gold.
Miho Takagi of Japan competes in the women’s 3000 meter speed skating event at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb. 5, 2022, at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing. (Kyōdo) == Kyōdo
Lollobrigida won the silver medal in 3:58.06, while Canada’s Isabelle Weidemann was 1.71 seconds off the pace for bronze.
Takagi clocked 4:01.77 which kept her atop the leaderboard for much of the competition in the gleaming new stadium dubbed the “Ice Ribbon”.
Skating in the third pair alongside Olympic 3,000m champion Carlijn Achtereekte of the Netherlands, 27-year-old Takagi said her first lap wasn’t fast enough to set medal pace in the new arena .
She nevertheless clocked the provisional best time and remained in first place until Czech world record holder Martina Sablikova, running in the penultimate pair, took the lead with a time of 4: 00.34, which was finally good enough for Fourth.
“It was my first time skating on this rink and there were times when I struggled with my timing,” Takagi said. “Lap one was no better than usual (and) this unfortunate start caught up with me.”
Japan’s other representative, Ayano Sato, was ninth in 4:03.40.
“More than my overall time and ranking, I was happy that I was able to move well,” Sato said. “I retired on the last lap, but had solid lap times until then.”
Takagi and Sato will contest the women’s 1,500 on Monday. Takagi is the world record holder for the distance and will enter the race as the favorite.
Irene Schouten of the Netherlands competes to win the women’s 3000 meters in speed skating at the Beijing Winter Olympics on February 5, 2022 at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing. (Kyōdo) == Kyōdo