Immediately after going back to her old boots, South Korean speed skater Kim Min-sun returned to a familiar place -- the top of the podium at a World Cup competition.
Kim won the women's 500-meter title at the latest International Skating Union World Cup Speed Skating stop in Stavanger, Norway, on Sunday. Kim clocked her season-best 37.73 seconds for her first World Cup gold medal of this season in five tries. Erin Jackson of the United States, the 2022 Olympic champion, ranked second in 37.75 seconds.
Kim was the World Cup overall champion last season, winning five out of six races and finishing in second place once. She also picked up her first career Four Continents title in the 500m.
Kim, 24, switched her skate boots at the start of this season, looking to build herself up for the 2026 Winter Olympics. She has been testing them out since the Korea Skating Union Presidents Cup in Seoul on Nov. 1, with varying degrees of success.
At the season-opening World Cup event in Obihiro, Japan, on Nov. 10-11, Kim had finished fifth and then seventh in two 500m races. The next host of the World Cup, Beijing, also held two 500m races for women the following week, and Kim had finished third and then second.
Kim broke the 38-second mark just once in her new boots before Sunday, and then posted 37.73 seconds in her old boots.
"Maybe next season I'll try new boots again, but this (old pair) works well for now," Kim told the ISU's official website.
Kim covered the first 100m in 10.55 seconds, the third-fastest in the field, while Jackson got out of the blocks in 10.42 seconds. But Kim had the fastest final split with 27.18 seconds, while Jackson came home in 27.33 seconds to lose by 0.02 second.
"Jackson opened in 10.4s, so I think I have to improve my start," Kim said.
Jackson said she enjoyed the competition.
"Such small margins, that's the excitement of the 500m when everyone's super good," she said. "Of course, I'd like to win, but Kim is just an amazing athlete."
The next World Cup starts Friday in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland. There will be two women's 500m races, one each on Friday and Saturday. (Yonhap)