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Speed skaters rave about new S. Korean venue

All Headlines 19:44 February 09, 2017

By Yoo Jee-ho

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- Speed skaters who took part in the inaugural race at a new South Korean Olympic venue raved about the facility on Thursday, saying they were happy with the "fast" surface.

The International Skating Union (ISU) World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships opened with the women's 3,000 at Gangneung Oval in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul. This is a test event for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games and also the first official competition at the brand new arena.

Seven of the 20 skaters broke their personal bests, including South Korean Kim Bo-reum, who finished sixth with the national record time of 4:03.85. While three medalists didn't set personal records, they said they were still pleased with the ice condition.

"The ice master did a really good job here," said Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, who won her third world title in the 3,000m at 3:59.05. "It's really fast ice, and skating below four minutes is really good."

Ireen Wust of the Netherlands (C), the gold medalist in the women's 3,000m at the International Skating Union (ISU) World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships at Gangneung Oval in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, is flanked by the silver medalist Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic (L) and Antoinette de Jong of the Netherlands on the podium on Feb. 9, 2017. (Yonhap)

Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic, the 2016 champion who finished second here, said she didn't think the ice would be this fast in competition.

"During training, it wasn't so fast," she said. "But in the race, it was really good and fast. I was so happy to skate here."

Isabelle Weidemann of Canada didn't win a medal, but broke her personal best by about half a second to finish ninth at 4:04.54. She also reserved praise for Gangneung Oval.

"The ice is fast and smooth," she said. "I hope it's fast next year at the Olympics."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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