25 March 2012 – Heerenveen, THE NETHERLANDS
Racing with his U.S. teammates, Shani Davis was able to find a silver lining in an otherwise overcast World Championships.
Shani and his Illinois brethren, Jonathan Kuck and Brian Hansen, skated to the Team Pursuit silver medal in the last race of the last event of the 2011-2012 international season. Only The Netherlands team skated faster on the day.
The result marked the trio’s second straight podium finish at the World Championships: Last year the Shani-led squad captured the U.S.’s first ever World Championship gold.
Two days earlier Shani earned his career third World Championship 1000m Bronze (1:08.83), finishing behind a pair of Dutchmen who had breakout seasons: Overall 1000m World Cup Champion Stefan Groothuis (1:08.57) and Overall Individual World Cup points winner Kjeld Njus (1:08.79).
Although the result wasn’t the one Shani hoped for to cap the individual racing season, the two-time Olympic 1000m Champion kept things in perspective: “Of course I always want to be on top, but that’s just not the way life is. But I know [the result] will fuel me for next year.”
This season Shani captured his record-tying fifth Overall 1000m World Cup crown. The 1000m World Record Holder (1:06.42) closed with four straight World Cup 1000m wins this winter – including a thrilling World Cup Final victory – after opening the fall series with no podium finishes in three starts.
On Thursday Shani finished fourth (1:46.64) in the World Championships 1500m, a race won by friend Denny Morrison of Canada (1:46.44). Said Shani, “I’m happy for Denny. I know it’s been a long time since he won at 1500m so this one must feel really good.”
Davis, who also owns the 1500m World Record (1:41.06), has won a record three 1500m World Championships, in 2004, 2007 and 2009. The 2006 & 2010 Olympic 1500m Silver medalist also finished second in the 1500m at the 2008 and 2011 World Championships.
Shani won twice at 1500m on the World Cup circuit this season and finished third in the Overall standings behind Njus and Norwegian Havard Bokko, who snapped Shani’s record streak of five consecutive Overall World Cup 1500m titles from 2007-2011.
With his six World Cup wins on the year Shani surpassed Dan Jansen as the U.S.’s all-time winningest male World Cup skater. His 51 total World Cup individual victories rank second all-time behind only retired Canadian sprint legend Jeremy Wotherspoon (67).
[Photo credit: Martin de Jong]