Arne Dankers re-examines retirement plan after victory at speed skating nationals

Arne Dankers of Calgary found another reason to delay a planned retirement at the end of this season with a solid victory in the men's 5,000 metres on Friday at the Canadian single distance championships in long track speed skating.

Dankers clocked one of the best times of his career finishing in six minutes and 15.44 seconds at the Olympic Oval. Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., and Justin Warsylewicz of Regina both clocked the next best times at 6:30.50.

A two-time Olympian, Dankers was planning to cap his speed skating career this season. But he's enjoyed a solid season so far and made a successful debut on Friday with a new pair of skates.

"It's a weird time to change skates but I had raced in the other pair for the last four-five years," said Dankers, 26. "But I was really happy with the time today, it was my best this year. I had a totally different approach to my training this season and I'm really skating well. Certainly I'll re-examine my future. I'm really enjoying skating right now."

It was a Winnipeg sweep in the women's 3,000: Clara Hughes earned the victory in 4:03.99 with five-time Olympic medallist Cindy Klassen second in 4:05.13 and Brittany Schussler third in 4:15.19.

Hughes raced the sprint events (500 and 1,000 metres) on the World Cup this fall.

"For me this is the start to my season," said Hughes, the Olympic champion in the 5,000. "I felt good about it, it was decent and got into a good rhythm. Certainly the sprints helped me in the first part of my race today but even more I feel excited now about racing my distances."

Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., completed a sprint sweep with a victory in the men's 1,000 in 1:08.41. Francois-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., was second in 1:08.83 and Mike Ireland of Winnipeg third in 1:08.84.

In the women's 1,000, Klassen who returned to competition on Thursday, notched her first victory this season in 1:14.99 with Kristina Groves of Ottawa second in 1:15.10 and Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg third in 1:15.99.

Competition continues through to Sunday. Start time is 10 a.m. each day.

Friday's results at the Canadian single distance championships in long track speed skating:

MEN

1,000: 1. Denny Morrison, Fort St. John, B.C., 1:08.41; 2. Francois-Olivier Roberge, St-Nicolas, Que., 1:08.83; 3. Mike Ireland, Winnipeg, 1 :08.84; 4. Brock Miron, Calgary, 1 :09.00; 5. Phillippe Riopel, Lachenaie, Que., 1:09.89; 6. Adam McCabe, Cambridge, Ont., 1:10.88; 7. Jamie Gregg, Edmonton, 1:10.90; 8. Cailean Duggan, Gloucester, Ont., 1:11.06; 9. Muncef Ouardi, Quebec, 1:11.26; 10. Matt McLean, Winnipeg, 1:11.61.

5,000: 1. Arne Dankers, Calgary, 6:15.44; 2. Steven Elm, Red Deer, Alta., 6:30.50; 3. Justin Warsylewicz, Regina, 6:30.50; 4. Mark Jesney, Saskatoon, 6:33.93; 5. Lucas Makowsky, Regina, 6:343.03; 6. Neal Zalusky, Moose Jaw, Sask., 6:36.06; 7. Jay Morrison, Fort St. John, B.C., 6:40.28; 8. Jamie Ivey, Ottawa, 6:45.24; 9. Aaron Sadlier, Calgary, 6:46.06; 10. Peter Martel, Red Deer, 6:55.80.

WOMEN

1,000: 1. Cindy Klassen, Winnipeg, 1:14.99; 2. Kristina Groves, Ottawa, 1:15.10; 3. Shannon Rempel, Winnipeg, 1:15.99; 4. Christine Nesbitt, London, Ont., 1:16.07; 5. Brittany Schussler, Winnipeg, 1:16.07; 6. Krisy Myers, Lloydminster, Sask., 1:18.23; 7. Kim Weger, Regina, 1:20.17; 8. Kylee Toth, Calgary, 1:20.86; 9. Kirsti Lay, Medicine Hat, Alta., 1:21.13; 10. Marie-Pier Gervais-Moreau, Cap-Rouge, Que., 1:21.41.

3,000: 1. Clara Hughes, Winnipeg, 4:03.99; 2. Cindy Klassen, Winnipeg, 4:05.13; 3. Brittany Schussler, Winnipeg, 4:15.19; 4. Shannon Sibold, Calgary, 4:15.29; 5. Michelle d'Amours, Ste-Foy, Que., 4:16.26; 6. Tara Risling, Medicine Hat, Alta., 4:17.70; 7. Justine L'Heureux, Ste-Tite, Que., 4:17.98; 8. Nicole Garrido, Edmonton, 4 :25.52; 9. Joanna Russell, Alberta, 4:30.94; 10. Meaghan Buisson, Saskatoon, 4:31.21.