Japan's Olympic champions won the women's team pursuit gold in Nagano ©ISU

Olympic champions Japan won the women's team pursuit to the delight of the home crowd at the International Skating Union (ISU) Speed Skating World Cup in Nagano.

In their first outing of the season, the Pyeongchang 2018 gold medallists - Ayano Sato and sisters Miho and Nana Takagi - smashed the Netherlands’ 2016 track record by more than two seconds, finishing in 2min 56.37sec.

Canada - featuring Ivanie Blondin, winner of the previous day's 3,000m, Valerie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann - took silver in 2:57.81.

The Russia trio of Evegenia Lalenkova, Elizaveta Kazelina and Natalya Voronina were third.

It was also a great night for Russia at M-Wave arena, which hosted Olympic competition in 1998, as gold in the women’s 500 metres went to Olga Golikova.

Pavel Kulizhnikov added to the Russian success by winning the men’s 1,000m in a track record and Danila Semerikov won the concluding 5,000m race.

Golikova won the second women’s 500m event of this World Cup in 37.24sec, 0.27 faster than she had recorded in finishing second to Japan's Nao Kodaira two days earlier.

Austria’s world 500m champion Vanessa Herzog earned silver in 37.45, with Kodaira clocking 37.50. 

Kulizhnikov, who had won earlier bronze and silver, finished with 1000m gold in a track record of 1min 08.454sec, with Dutch skaters completing the podium.

Kai Verbij took silver in 1:08.676 and Hein Otterspeer won bronze in 1:08.956.

Semerikov clocked 6min 18.605sec to win the men's 5000m title, with New Zealand's Peter Michael second in 6:18.691 and bronze going to Russia's Alexander Rumyantsev in 6:19.663.