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Americans prove formidable on final day in Astana

Richardson, Bowe increase U.S. medal haul at World Cup Kazakhstan
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Americans Heather Richardson (left) and Brittany Bowe won the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the ladies 1,000-meter competition at World Cup Kazakhstan. -Getty Images

Team USA closed well on the last day of the World Cup long track event in Astana, Kazakhstan, with Heather Richardson winning the ladies 1,000m and Brittany Bowe finishing right behind her in second place.

Both Richardson and Bowe were faster than the track record that Christine Nesbitt (CAN) set last year at 1:14.82. Richardson reached 1:14.22 and Bowe 1:14.78.

"I'm happy to have gotten a solid race in the last day here in Astana, and that Brittany and I were able to go 1-2 again," Richardson said. "I'm looking forward to Berlin next weekend."

"It was a solid weekend of racing here in Astana, winning gold in the 1,500m and silver in the 1,000m behind Heather," Bowe said. "It's always fun stepping on the podium with Heather.

Team USA coach Ryan Shimabukuro was satisfied with the American showing in Kazakhstan.

"Three golds, a silver, two track records from Shani [Davis] and Heather (both 1,000m) and three Division A promotions for next week in Berlin," he said. "Overall, we're pretty satisfied with the results in Astana and looking to earn a little more hardware next weekend in Berlin before heading back home."

Beyond Richardson and Bowe, nobody else was inside 1:15, and only three other skaters were below 1:16. Julia Skokova (RUS) did well with 1:15.66 on her 31st birthday, and Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) with 1:15.70 was outside that, although she was the fastest in the first 600 meters.

The bronze medal was taken away from Skokova by her teammate, the world champion at this distance, Olga Fatkulina, who finished in 1:15.18.

Richardson made Astana the second-fastest lowland rink; she was faster once at low altitude, in Milwaukee.

In the World Cup, Richardson leads with 280 points, Bowe follows with 250 and Fatkulina moved up to third place with 180 points.

Men's 500m

This was a 500m where the Olympic medalists of Vancouver played the big roles. Olympic champion Tae-Bum Mo (KOR) and silver medalist Keiichiro Nagashima (JPN) raced together in the seventh pair. Nagashima had the best race, opening in a fast 9.50, while Mo finished in 9.70. Their laps were comparable, and Nagashima set a new track record of 34.69. Mo finished in 34.87.

The bronze medalist from Vancouver, Joji Kato (JPN), raced in the next pair and was the third skater below 35 with 34.97. But Kato was kept just off the podium as Saturday's surprise winner Artyom Kuznetsov (RUS) once again beat his countryman, Dmitri Lobkov, in a direct duel, achieving 34.92 and the bronze.

Nagashima is the first male skater this year with two 500m victories. Ronald Mulder retains the lead in the World Cup with 376 points, Mo has 347 and Michel Mulder 288, only four points ahead of both Nagashima and Kuznetsov. 

Men's 10,000m

Sven Kramer was the only Dutchman in the A-division, but the B-division podium was all Dutch (Douwe de Vries was first in 13:05.58, with Bob de Vries and Robert Bovenhuis both coming within 7.5 seconds of the winner). For the first time since his debut in 1996, Bob de Jong missed a long distance, choosing instead to have a training camp for the Olympic Games with his teammate, Jorrit Bergsma, whose Astana track record survived this weekend.

Kramer had a solid competition in his pair with Olympic champion Seung-Hoon Lee (KOR), but Lee could only maintain that pace until 6,000m. In the closing laps, he struggled and dropped to fifth place with 13:20.94. Kramer outpaced the B-division, winning in 13:02.38.

In second place was Alexis Contin (FRA), who skated an even race in 13:14.64, only 2.5 seconds outside his French record.

The bronze medal came from the pair of Patrick Beckert (GER) and Bart Swings (BEL), who raced smartly together. Swings took the lead after 6,000m but never quite shook off Beckert, who is known for his capacity to finish a long distance with a few fast laps, and the German overtook Swings in the final lap to take bronze in 13:18.71. Swings was fourth with 13:19.27.

With his 30th victory, Kramer became the Dutchman with the most World Cup wins in history. He leads the World Cup with 300 points, Lee has 160 and Bergsma 150.

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