9 December 2012 – Nagano, JAPAN 

Coming off his first World Cup 1500m win of the season last weekend in Kazakhstan, Shani Davis had to skate with caution in the 1000m sprint events here.

90-percent recovered from a groin injury that caused him to miss the opening World Cup event in Europe, Shani finished fourth in the second of two 1000m contests at the iconic M-Wave oval, sight of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.

Racing first – by himself – and unable to fully sprint off the start line, Shani overcome a cautious opening 600m to turn in the fastest final 400m of the day (27.0) before crossing in 1:09.81.

The race winner, Hein Otterspeer of The Netherlands, clocked 1:09.20, well behind the track record Shani set four years ago (1:08.91). 

The result paralleled the first day’s 1000m, when Shani’s injury-related slow start caused him to be disqualified at the first lane-change as he came out of the inner turn equal with his pair and was forced to cut across the lane markers. Despite that rare occurrence, Shani still managed to turn in a blazing 26.8 final lap, a half-second faster than anyone else in the field.

Davis had the weekend’s events in perspective: “Always disappointing not to be able to skate at 100%, but I gave my best effort under the circumstances and it’s only a matter of time before I can race all-out from start to finish.”

Shani aims to build on his Nagano progress next weekend in Harbin, China, where he’ll get two more 1000m starts to conclude the fall WC sprint series.

The two-rime Olympic 1000m Champion has won a record five Overall World Cup 1000m titles and is the World Cup’s winningest 1000m skater with 36 career victories.

[photo credit: REUTERS, Yuriko Nakao]