4 November 2012 – Milwaukee, USA
Shani Davis delivered an emphatic message at the first official stop of his 2012-2013 campaign: Full Speed Ahead.
Racing in the season-opening U.S. Single Distance Championships in Milwaukee, Shani successfully defended his 1000m and 1500m titles, the former in near-record time.
At 1500m on Sunday Shani was near flawless, winning in a season-best 1:44.94. That time was more than two seconds faster than second-place finisher Brian Hansen (1:47.12).
With seemingly effortless grace, Shani executed steady lap times of 24.0 (300m), 26.7 (700m), 27.9 (1100m) and 28.2 (1500m). The result was his second fastest time ever at the Pettit, and fastest without aid of the venue’s air fan system that can create taliwind-like conditions.
The two-time Olympic 1500m silver medalist and three-time 1500m World Champion is determined to climb back atop the 1500m world rankings after missing the podium in the distance at last year’s World Championships. Shani still holds the 1500m World Record (1:41.06).
“It was strong,” said Davis afterward. “If anything, I was too long, too relaxed for the opening 100m. But I’m pleased with the good feeling I have on the ice.”
In Saturday’s 1000m Shani clocked 1:08.45, only .12 off his seven-year-old Pettit Center track record (1:08.33).
After a 16.9 opening 200m split from the outer lane followed by a solid 25.2 first lap, the two-time Olympic 1000m Champion knew his motor was running well. True to form, Shani shifted into his vaunted 5th gear in the final lap, crossing the line nearly a full second ahead of his pair, second-place finisher Hansen (1:09.30).
“It felt really good,” said Davis. “My speed and my corners aren’t all the way there yet, but I feel strong as ever on the straights.”
It was Shani’s third straight U.S. title at 1000m, and record 7th of his hall-of-fame career. In addition to winning back-to-back Olympic 1000m Gold in 2006 and 2010, Davis has won a record five Overall World Cup 1000m titles and three 1000m World Championship crowns. Speedskating’s all-time middle-distance king also owns the current World Record at 1000m (1:06.42), which he established more than three years ago.
Earlier on Saturday Shani secured his 500m World Cup spot by finishing third overall.
Shani is exactly where he wants to be heading into the pre-Olympic year: “I trained as well as I ever have this summer and fall and I’m excited to see where I’ll be in the [World Cup] season. I feel like I could perform well at 5000m, too, but I know I need to get my sprint speed up so that’s what I’m focusing on before the [international] racing starts.”
The international World Cup season opens 16-18 November in The Netherlands.
[photo credit: US Speedskating]