American Cameron Naasz continued his blistering form from Marseille with a commanding display during his first competitive runs down the 630m track in Jyväskylä-Laajis, Finland, taking top spot in Friday morning's shootout. Under blue skies the defending champion narrowly held off the impressive challenge of rising Finnish star, Markus Juola, by just a few hundreths of a second, with fellow Finn Miikka Jouhkimainen taking third place. Naasz will be looking to lay some demons to rest when he takes to the track for the final rounds on Saturday night, following his slip when leading in the final of this race last year.
In the women's shootout, it was Canadian Myriam Trepanier who fired her way to the top ahead of Sandrine Rangeon of France in second and reigning champion Jacqueline Legere in third. Trepanier, who pushed Legere all the way in a thrilling battle for the 2015/16 world championship, will be aiming to turn up the heat once again on her compatriot when they take to the track in Saturday's final rounds.
Meanwhile, the junior's shootout was won by Finn Mirkho Lahti, who put in a storming run down the bumpy natural ice track and beat his nearest rival, Czech Václav Kosnar, by a huge 2.5 seconds margin. Fellow Finn Joni Saarinen, winner of the first ever junior competition in Marseille, was almost 5 seconds back in third place. The final junior rounds will be held on Friday night, with thousands of fans expected to turn out to enjoy all the action from the fastest sport on skates.
MEN: 1. Cameron Naasz (USA), 2. Markus Juola (FIN), 3. Miikka Jouhkimainen (FIN), 4. Scott Croxall (CAN), 5. Luca Dallago (AUT), 6. Maxwell Dunne (USA), 7. John Fisher (CAN), 8. Marco Dallago (AUT), 9. Daniel Guolla (CAN), 10. Antti Tolvanen (FIN).
WOMEN: 1. Myriam Trepanier (CAN), 2. Sandrine Rangeon (FRA), 3. Jacqueline Legere (CAN), 4. Elaine Topolniski (CAN), 5. Sydney O'keefe (USA), 6. Tamara Kajah (CAN), 7. Maxie Plante (CAN), 8. Amanda Trunzo (USA), 9. Veronika Windisch (AUT), 10. Camilla Ojapalo (FIN).
JUNIORS: 1. Mirko Lahti (FIN), 2. Václav Kosnar (CZE), 3. Joni Saarinen (FIN), 4. Oliver Isaac (CAN), 5. Dmitriy Murlichkin (RUS)