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December 6, 2021

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Ning sets national mark at WCup

Ning Zhongyan of China continued to show good form in the 2021-22 season International Skating Union speed skating World Cup series, winning a silver — with a national record time of 1 minute and 41.38 seconds — in the men’s 1,500 meters in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday.

It was the third medal at as many World Cups for the 22-year-old after his two podium finishes over the distance in the previous stops. The World Cup leader was 0.23 seconds behind his pair and eventual winner Joey Mantia of the United States, and slicing nearly a second off his own record gave him a lot of satisfaction.

“I’m really happy with my time,” Ning told the ISU official website. “To skate a personal best, and also to break the Chinese record again.”

Ning had won a silver in the Poland leg of the World Cup in mid-November and then stepped up his game the following week to clinch gold in Stavanger, Norway, on November 22.

Ning said then that the gold medal will boost his confidence before the 2022 Winter Olympics begin in Beijing on February 4.

“It’s very important for me to win this medal. It gives me great confidence for the Olympic year going forward,” Ning said in a statement.

“Yes, there’s some degree of pressure for sure with the Olympics in China but I believe athletes from other countries have pressure, too.”

Meanwhile on Saturday, skating on home ice, Mantia crossed the line with a personal best time of 1:41.15 for the gold, only 0.98 seconds short of the world record.

World champion Thomas Krol of the Netherlands came third in 1:41.892.

“(I was) hoping to get under the 1.41 mark and to be in the 1.40, but I’m very happy with it. It’s consistent. And it’s a huge confidence-builder going into the Olympics,” Mantia said.

In the women’s middle distance race, Olympic bronze medalist Miho Takagi of Japan triumphed in the 1,000 competition in 1:11.83, only 0.22 seconds short of Brittany Bowe’s world record.

Dutch Jutta Leerdam took the silver 0.42 seconds behind.

The American world record holder Bowe had to settle for a third-place finish in 1:12.608 after two wins this season and continued to lead the World Cup standings.

Tagaki was close to another gold in team pursuit, but her sister Nana fell on the final lap and Canada took gold in 2:52.390, followed by the Netherlands (2:52.692) and Russia (2:56.220).

Also on Saturday, Andzelika Wojcik claimed the gold in a Polish national record time of 36.775 seconds, edging Russian world champion Angelina Golikova by 0.01 second for her maiden World Cup victory in women’s 500. Another Russian Olga Fatkulina had her first podium finish this season in 36.937 seconds.

The men’s mass start, Bart Swings of Belgium had a convincing victory ahead of Viktor Hald Thorup of Denmark and Ruslan Zakharov of Russia.


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