Russia’s Pavel Kulizhnikov won the 500 metres and the 1,000m while the Japanese men claimed their first team pursuit gold on the first day of the International Skating Union Speed Skating World Cup in Poland today.
Kulizhnikov, the 500m world record holder, was back to his best form at the Arena Lodowa in Tomaszów Mazowiecki after a relatively disappointing showing in Japan last month.
He returned to training in July this year having had knee surgery the previous month.
In the 500m, he set a track record time of 34.83sec, with Ryohei Haga of Japan second in 34.98 and Olympic champion Havard Lorentzen of Norway third in 35.10.
Kulizhnikov's improved showing lifted him up to third place in the 500m World Cup rankings with 212 points, 10 behind Lorentzen.
Japan’s Tatsuya Shinhama stays top with 242 points, despite finishing sixth in 35.24 today.
Kulizhnikov skated to another track record in the 1,000m, clocking a time of 1min 09.23sec, to beat Kai Verbij of The Netherlands.
Lorentzen came third in 1:10.07.
"He's more or less the old Kulizhnikov, the one we saw about four years ago," Verbij said.
"He also makes little mistakes, but he definitely is the man to beat in the 500m and the 1,000m at the moment.
"Still, there are quite a few guys who come very close – Kjeld Nuis, Lorentzen, myself.”
With 148 points, Verbij took over the 1,000m World Cup lead in the absence of Nuis, who did not skate in Poland.
Lorentzen is second with 134 points and Kulizhnikov lies third with 120 points.
The Japanese men followed their ladies' example in the team pursuit.
Seitaro Ichinoke, Ryosuke Tsuchiya and Shane Williamson secured the first ever World Cup gold for Japan in this discipline.
Japan clocked 3:47.50 to leave Olympic champions and World Cup leaders Norway 0.26 behind.
Russia came third in 3:47.82.
Japan national coach Johan de Wit of The Netherlands believes the men's team pursuit squad will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.
"They definitely have the same potential as the ladies,” he said.
“I think we have the youngest team on the ice and they already took gold here.
“And it's not only the guys who were skating today, there's a couple more who can skate a good team pursuit,” he said.
“We've been working on this for three years."
The competition in Poland continues tomorrow.