Nana Takagi became the first Japanese woman to win multiple gold medals in a single Olympics on Saturday, when she triumphed in the Pyeongchang Games women's mass start speed skating race.
Takagi hung back with the pack and entered the all-important final sprint drafting behind Dutch skater Irene Schouten. The 1.55-meter Takagi cruised low in the slipstream of the 1.68-meter Dutchwoman until the final turn, when Schouten drifted improbably wide, allowing Takagi a clear inside path to the finish line.
Following her victory on Wednesday in team pursuit, Takagi became the first Japanese athlete with two Winter Games gold medals since ski jumper Kazuyoshi Funaki won two at the 1998 Nagano Olympics in Japan.
South Korea's Kim Bo Reum captured the silver, while Schouten won bronze. The race marked the Olympic debut of the mass start event.
"Getting to stand on the top step of the podium is the greatest," said Takagi, who stumbled in her debut at the Gangneung Oval, finishing 12th in the 5,000 meters on Feb. 16.
"A lot of frustration was left from that first race, but in my last two races I skated really well. I really settled down after winning in the team pursuit. This has become just the greatest Olympics."
Ayano Sato, also a team pursuit gold medalist, was knocked down in her semifinal. Sato, who won a World Cup mass start in the Netherlands in November, fell over Ivanie Blondin after the Canadian had lost her balance heading into the second sprint of the 16-lap race.
Although Blondin carried on skating, she failed to qualify for the final. Annouk van der Weijden of the Netherlands was also involved in the accident but went on to advance.
"There were two Dutch girls in the final and I figured they were going to be on the podium, so I figured if I could stick to them, I could get a medal, too," Takagi said.
"After what happened to Ayano, I felt like I was skating for two of us and that motivated me more."
Sato hurt her arm in the crash, and was crushed by not being able to skate side by side with her teammate.
"I so wanted to win a medal, cooperating with Nana in the final, so this is so frustrating," she said.
Kim said of her silver, "I am very happy with this medal. I will treasure this medal forever."
"Ever since when I started at 14 or 15 I wanted to get a medal and I am very happy to get this medal for my country."
Schouten admitted she had paid the price for getting her tactics wrong.
"I'm sorry I didn't have a gold medal. It is a game, so not every time the best one wins. My teammate (van der Weijden) had a lot of pain in the knee so the plan didn't work out. I went too early in the front. That's why I lost the last 100 meters."
South Korea's Lee Seung Hoon, a team pursuit silver medalist, won the men's mass start, while Belgium's Bart Swings took silver, and the Netherlands' Koen Verweij earned his second bronze of these games.
Japan's Shane Williamson finished 11th in the men's final.
The semifinal and final races each consist of 16 laps with intermediate sprints after four, eight and 12 laps, and a final sprint. Rankings are based on points gained in sprints, then by finish time for athletes not scoring any points. The winner of each of the first three sprints earns five points, while the first three skaters to cross after the final 16th-lap sprint earn 60, 40 and 20 points in order of their finish.