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S. Korean Lee Sang-hwa earns third silver in Speed Skating World Cup

2017/12/04 07:51

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean speed skater Lee Sang-hwa has collected her third silver medal of the current World Cup season, watching her Japanese rival Nao Kodaira remain undefeated.

Lee finished second to Kodaira in the women's 500 meters in the third leg of the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup Speed Skating in Calgary, Canada, on Sunday (local time). With a time of 36.86 seconds, Lee finished 0.33 second behind Kodaira, who broke her personal best with 36.53 seconds to win her fifth consecutive World Cup 500m race this season.

Lee is the two-time reigning Olympic champion in the 500m and also the world record holder with 36.36 seconds, but the 28-year-old has been overtaken by Kodaira over the past two seasons. The 31-year-old Japanese was undefeated in eight World Cup races in the 2016-2017 season and also captured both the world single distance championship and the sprint championship in the 500m.

In this EPA photo, Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea skates in the ladies' 500 meters at the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup Speed Skating in Calgary, Canada, on Dec. 3, 2017. (Yonhap) In this EPA photo, Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea skates in the ladies' 500 meters at the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup Speed Skating in Calgary, Canada, on Dec. 3, 2017. (Yonhap)

The one saving grace from the two's latest showdown was that Lee cracked 37 seconds for the first time this season. She struggled at the previous World Cup stop in Stavanger, Norway, last month, finishing third and seventh in two 500m races.

The first four out of six World Cup competitions this season will serve as qualifying events for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, as they will decide quota places for each country.

A total of 180 speed skaters -- 100 men and 80 women -- will compete in PyeongChang, and the quota places will be allocated based on the points rankings and time rankings at the World Cup races.

Each nation can earn a maximum three quota places for the men's and women's 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m, men's 5,000m and women's 3,000m. Two quota places per country will be allowed for the men's 10,000m, women's 5,000m, and mass start for the men and women. Countries will only be able to send one team each in the team pursuit.

For countries that secure a quota place in all events, the overall quota per country will be a maximum 10 each for men and women.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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