Sablikova smashes speed skating world record to clinch gold
Olympic champion speed skater Martina Sablikova smashed her own world record as she claimed gold in the 3,000m at the ISU World Cup Finals in Salt Lake City.
The Czech Republic star crossed the finish line in 3:52.027 minutes, eclipsing her prior best of 3:53.31 from last week in Calgary, as she topped the podium.
Sablikova finished ahead of Esmee Visser (3:54.02) of the Netherlands and Russia's Natalya Voronina (3:54.06), who settled for second and third respectively despite setting new national records.
It was Sablikova's third world record in ten days and the 31-year-old said she knew she would have to pull something out of the bag after Visser and Voronina's showings.
"When I saw those times, I thought it would be hard to beat," Sablikova said. "I did not feel very well the last days. I was very tired.
"But in the locker room, my teammates said: 'it's the last seven-and-a-half laps of the season.' That's how I found the motivation to try and give it my all once more.
"I started faster than I ever skated before and I did not think I could keep it up.
"The final two laps were very hard, but I said to myself: 'it's the last two laps of the season'. That's how I managed to pull it off."
And it was Takagi who claimed victory after stopping the clock in 1:11.71, with Kodaira finishing in 1:11.77 and USA's Brittany Bow completing the podium in 1:11.7.
In the men's races, Russian Pavel Kulizhnikov and Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands broke the 500m and 1000m world records, while Patrick Roest won the 5000m with a personal best.
Russia's Aleksandr Rumyantsev also clinched the long-distance World Cup, with his fourth-placed finish in the 5000m enough to edge out Norway's Sverre Lunde Pedersen.