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Japanese Hat Trick at Olympic Oval

Winter Games 19 January 2023

Japanese speed skaters pulled the delegation’s – and Lake Placid 2023’s – second podium sweep on Tuesday when Taiyo Nonomura, Kazuya Yamada and Motonaga Arito won gold, silver and bronze, respectively, in the men’s 1500 metres of the FISU World University Games.

Arito was the first of the trio to hit the ice, in the 15th pair, and became the third male skater to set a new track record on the day thanks to a time of 1:50.42.

Going in the 18th and next-to-last pair, Yamada clocked 1:50.08 to take the lead and temporarily push his teammate to second place.

Not to be outdone, Nonomura posted a winning time of 1:49.93 as part of the final duo, becoming the first-ever skater to go under the 1:50.00 mark at the Olympic Oval.

“It’s an honour to win the gold medal at such a large and important event,” said Nonomura.

“We are all training partners, so we prepared together for this competition, and had very high expectations. I really thought we had the best skaters at this distance, so I was confident that we would win,” he remarked about the podium sweep.

Silver medalist Yamada was also confident in himself and his teammates prior to the race, while adding he was hoping for a better time, which was difficult to achieve outdoors.

“I’m happy to join the two other Japanese skaters at the medal ceremony tonight. We expected to take first, second, and third, and I thought we could even win the top four places.”

Earlier in the Games, on Sunday, Japan had also swept the podium in Nordic Combined, in the women’s individual Gundersen event.

In the women’s 1500, Korea’s Jiwoo Park won gold in 2:04.41, also a new track standard.

She was joined on the podium by Natalia Jabrzyk of Poland, who clocked 2:06.19 (also under the previous track mark), and Veronika Antošová of the Czech Republic, crossing the line in 2:06.63.

Following her victory, Park, who had captured silver in the 3000m on Monday, remarked on the rink, its nature and its history.

“In Korea, it’s not a normal thing to skate outside, so that was very interesting. It was fascinating to skate outside with the beautiful scenery and the ice quality was excellent today.

“I’m very pleased to win the race. I had a little bit of a regret missing first place yesterday, so to get first today is incredible. I was amazed that the track record we had yesterday (in the 3000m) was set in the 1980 Olympics and how historic this venue is.”

By Christopher Benítez Cuartas, FISU Young Reporter