Speed Skater Kodaira Claims 1st Cup Title

Speed skater Kodaira claims 1st Cup titleSpeed skater Nao Kodaira’s decision to train in the Netherlands with the mighty Dutch paid its first big dividend last weekend.

Kodaira posted her first career World Cup victory in her ninth season, winning the women’s 500 meters on Friday, the first day of a three-day meet in Seoul.

Kodaira edged two-time Olympic champiom and local star Lee Sang Hwa by 0.13 seconds. “There had always been a wall that I couldn’t break through,” Kodaira said. “She has always been my motivation, so I have to thank Sang Hwa.”

The 28-year-old Kodaira, who finished fifth at the Sochi Olympics, moved to the Netherlands in the spring, where she took a new look at her skating. Among the changes she made was the positioning of her shoulders.

Lee, who had gone a year and a half without losing a World Cup race, came back and won the 500 on Sunday, with Kodaira placing second.

At the season-opening World Cup races in Obihiro, Hokkaido, the previous week, she finished second in both races.