American Davis grabs World Cup gold

Jan 21 2012 - 11:33pm

Images

(GEORGE FREY/The Associated Press) American Shani Davis skates to a first-place finish in the men’s 1000 meters at the World Cup speedskating event on Saturday.
(GEORGE FREY/The Associated Press) American Shani Davis skates to a first-place finish in the men’s 1000 meters at the World Cup speedskating event on Saturday.

KEARNS -- Shani Davis had plenty of doubts entering Saturday's World Cup speed skating races.

With a capacity crowd cheering him on, the two-time Olympic gold medalist showed everyone he still has it.

Davis won his first World Cup gold medal of the season, capturing the 1,000 at the long track event at Utah Olympic oval in 1 minute, 7.20 seconds.

"It's just nice because the beginning of the season was rough, a really slow start," said Davis, whose best finish this season in the 1,000 had been fourth.

"I had a lot of doubt coming into this competition, but drew a lot of energy from the crowd. I've never seen so many people out here cheering for speed skating. I just tried my best not only for myself, but for the people out there cheering."

While Davis gained momentum heading into next weekend's World Sprint Championships in Calgary, Canada's Christine Nesbitt continued her dominance.

She remained unbeaten at 1,000 meters in World Cup races this season, winning Saturday in 1:13.36. She edged American Heather Richardson, who skated a pair of personal bests to claim silver in the 1,000 (1:13.99) and bronze in the 500 (37.58).

Canada picked up a silver when Denny Morrison took second (1:07.39) in the men's 1,000. Stefan Groothuis of The Netherlands was third (1:07.45).

 

Ireen Wust of The Netherlands took bronze in the women's 1,000 (1:14.51).

The biggest surprise was Richardson, who was on the podium twice Saturday after not making it all season.

"This is the first time I've won two. I'm happy with it," she said.

She attributed her slow start this season to surgery last fall to repair a torn lateral meniscus in her right knee.

"It was achy all through the fall World Cup season," she said. "Just now, (at national) trials in December is when it felt good. After trials, everything just went up from there."

She said it also helped to skate on home ice, with 4,000 fans cheering her on.

"I think it does have a lot to do with comfort," Richardson said.

Richardson edged Nesbitt by .01 seconds for her bronze medal. They skated in the same heat.

"It was a good race, and (I felt) really positive going into the 1,000," Richardson said.

Nesbitt, though, was just too good.

"Everyone is just trying to get to her level now," Richardson said of Nesbitt. "Hopefully that happens also."

American Brittany Bowe, a World Cup rookie who is making the jump from in-line skating and four years as a Division I point guard, took fifth in the 1,000. She skated a personal-best 1:14.87.

"I did better today than I had anticipated," said Bowe, who first gained inspiration to be an Olympian after watching the 2002 Games in Utah 10 years ago. "Each race just keeps getting better and better."

Bowe, a 1,000-point scorer at Florida Atlantic University, missed the podium by 0.36 seconds.

"A few 10ths is a snap of the snap of the hands," she said.

"The closer I get, the hungrier I get."

Perhaps no one is more motivated than Davis.

Two years after the Olympics is a time to experiment for the U.S. team, and Davis has done just that, trying different workout routines in the summer and fall.

"You can't always do the same things," Davis said. "You'll get the same results. Even though those results are good in the past, it's my duty and obligation to try new things. Right now I'm headed in the right direction."

He hopes he can carry the momentum into Calgary and the rest of the World Cup season.

"It's good to prove to myself I still have the competitive fire and spirit in my body, and when I'm faced with a challenge and things don't go my way, I don't give up, I come back as strong as I can," Davis said.

As for others doubting him, he said, "It's good to show them today I'm here, I'm skating well and I'm skating fast."

He was just as excited to see the 2002 Olympic venue filled to capacity on a rainy, cold day in Utah. He raised his arms in triumph after crossing the finish and again as he took in the cheers on a victory lap.

"It was an emotional moment," Davis said. "I was happy I didn't start crying out there."

In earlier races Saturday, Lee Sang-Hwa won her second World Cup gold medal of the season, winning the 500-meter race. Lee finished in 37.36 seconds for her best time of the season.

Japan's Nao Kodairo skated a national-record time of 37.42 to take silver.

China's Jing Yu, who had won both World Cup 500 races she previously skated, was disqualified.

For the men, Japan's Keiichiro Nagashima won 500 gold in 34.37, edging Jan Smeekens of The Netherlands (34.40). American Tucker Fredricks (34.45) took bronze.

From Around the Web

  +