Banking on a rare combination of talent, determination, and preparation, Shani opened defense of his 1000m and 1500m World Cup titles with two hard-fought wins in the speedskating-crazed Netherlands.

Home ice advantage was not enough for a trio of Dutchmen to overtake Shani in the 1500m after he crossed the finish line in 1:45.04, nearly a half-second ahead of 2nd place. The group of three behind Davis included 2010 Olympic 1500 meter champion Mark Tuitert, along with Simon Kuipers and Stefan Groothius, who finished 2nd and 4th, respectively.

One day earlier, “Mr. 1000 meters” raced to a 1:08.40 in his specialty, holding off Groothuis (1:08.51) and Kuipers (1:08.68) by the narrowest of margins and coming within a fraction of a second of breaking the Thialf track record. The 1000m victory was Shani’s 10th straight in the World Cup dating back to 2009. The result also mirrored last year’s season-ending 1000m World Cup Finale at Thialf, where Davis bested a pair of Dutchman lead by Groothuis by less than two-tenths. Said the perpetual World Cup leader: “I’m satisfied with the effort and will continue to push myself to become stronger and better – hopefully the best is yet to come.”

Shani also skated a respectable 35.41 in the competition’s second 500 meters, good enough for 12th place behind the world’s top sprint specialists. Facing the distance specialists at 5000m, Shani skated a solid 6:37.76. His all-around versatility will be put to the test at January’s World Championships in Calgary, where he will seek to win a third World Allround Championship.

The Herenveen World Cup marked the start of the International Skating Union’s season-long racing circuit, which continues Nov. 19-21 in Berlin, Germany.