Lausanne, Switzerland

Relegated due to a disqualification for two false starts at the first leg of the 500m ISU World Cup Speed Skating, Vanessa Herzog (AUT), the ISU World Speed Skating Champion won the B Division in Tomaszów Mazowiecki only one week later.

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Herzog was due to go head to head with Olympic Champion Nao Kodaira (JPN) in the final pair of the first ISU World Cup Speed Skating race over 500m in Minsk on 16 November.

"After the first false start the starter said that I was going into position too slow, but I didn't," she explained. "So I went down faster and did a false in the second. It was really sad."

Herzog won the 2018/19 500m ISU World Cup Speed Skating, despite Kodaira's 23 race winning streak. The Austrian had taken seven silver medals and one bronze behind Kodaira but took advantage when her Japanese nemesis was absent at the ISU World Cups in Tomaszów Mazowiecki and Hamar to collect enough points for the overall win.

At the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Inzell, Herzog proved to be worthy of the overall 500m ISU World Cup Speed Skating when she beat Kodaira fair and square, setting a new track record and won her first senior World Title.

At the start of the new season Herzog was eager to take on Kodaira again in the ISU World Cup Speed Skating, but she left the track in tears. Kodaira did not manage to take her 24th consecutive ISU World Cup Speed Skating win either. Feeling distracted after the two false starts, the 33-yar-old Japanese finished third in Minsk.

Both Herzog and Kodaira made amends in Tomaszów Mazowiecki. Herzog won the B Division 500m race, while Kodaira seized gold in the A Division with a track record time of 37.77.

"Last week was very disappointing," she said. "I tried to motivate myself for the B Group. I had to struggle with myself because I hadn't been in the B Division for a very long time. It's hard to be in the B Division as a world champion, because I know I can win in the A Division too.

"Now [in hindsight] it's easy to say, but I know I could have gone faster than 37.9… But that's sport, it's hard and you have to try and bounce back."

The Austrian managed to adapt to an earlier start after relegation:

"I'm glad it wasn't as early as usual (in the B Division), but it's just different. It's not the same skaters I'm used to. We had [Jorien] ter Mors (NED) and [Miho] Takagi (JPN) in the B Division too, so I still had someone to compete against."

Her B Division win got Herzog promoted back to the A Group for the next ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Nur-Sultan (6-8 December).

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Vanessa Herzog (AUT) at the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships 2019©Interntional Skating Union (ISU)

She said: "I'm happy to be back. I do compete in all World Cups. I think the overall World Cup is gone, but I still try to do many good races. In the end the most important race is in Salt Lake City (ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships, February 13-16, 2020), so I'm working on that."