22 March 2013 – Sochi, RUSSIA
Shani Davis earned two trips to the podium in his first two starts on the 2014 Olympic track.
Racing at the ISU World Championships, the two-time Olympic Champion picked up silver and bronze medals at the Black Sea oval where he hopes to mine more Olympic gold next February.
Shani’s 1500m silver and 1000m bronze were his 11th and 12th career individal World Championship medals – nearly half the all-time U.S. men’s total (26) – to go along with Team Pursuit gold (2011) and silver (2012).
At 1500m Shani used his trademark speed over 1100m then hung on over the final 400m, posting 1:46.83. Only Denis Yuskov of Russia went faster (1:46.32). Another Russian, Ivan Skobrev (1:46.97), joined them on the podium.
Davis is a three-time 1500m World Campion (2004, 2007, 2009) and has owned the 1500m World Record (1:41.04) since 2009. The two-time 1500m Olympic Silver Medalist also won World Championship 1500m silver in 2008 and 2011.
At 1000m Shani won the battle but not the war. Racing head to head in the final pair with 2013 World Cup overall winnner Kjeld Nuis, the two-time defending Olympic Champion came from behind in the final 200 meters to edge his Dutch rival, crossing in 1:09.30 to Nuis’ 1:09.42. Both were narrowly outpaced on the day by Kazakhstan’s Denis Kuzin (1:09.14) and Korean Tae-Bum Mo (1:09.24).
Shani was crowned 1000m World Champion in 2007, 2008 and 2011 and also earned bronze in 2009 and 2012. Speedskating’s middle-distance king established the current 1000m World Record (1:06.42) in 2009.
Davis’ 2013 World Championships results improved on his performance at the World Cup Final earlier this month, when he came away with only one 1500m bronze. Prior to that he missed the podium entirely in two WC events in a season that was hindered by sporadic training after an early-season groin tear.
Despite the obstacles Shani still managed to put together a season that would satisfy most skaters, winning three times on the World Cup circuit and garnering 8 international medals in all.
Said Shani following the races: “I’m always happy to be improving. I know what I need to do for next year, which is probably the most important thing.”
Davis burst onto the international speedskating scene 10 years ago at this same event in Seoul, Korea, when he won the 1500m World Championship in his first appearance (2004). Since then Shani had won at least one world or Olympic title every year, an amazing streak of nine consecutive years.
Shani now looks ahead to a short period of rest and relaxation before beginning the climb to Sochi 2014.
[Photo credit: AP, Mikhail Metzel]