Canada adds to medal count with Morrison taking silver, Nesbitt snaring bronze at ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Richmond

(Richmond, BC, March 13, 2009) – In a heartbreaking disqualification, Kristina Groves lost out today on winning gold and the world title in the ladies 1,500 metres after touching a lane puck in her last lap to go in the second day of competition at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships.

Groves, 32, of Ottawa, ON, was almost a full second ahead of the pack at the Richmond Olympic Oval but the gold instead went to Germany’s Anni Friesinger for her time of one minute, 58.66 seconds, followed by Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands at 1:58.83. Groves’ disqualification helped bump teammate Christine Nesbitt, who she was paired with in the race, into third with a time of 1:58.88.

“I just watched it on TV. . . I just tapped one of the pucks, it was like a centimetre. It kinda sucks but to me that was one of the best races of my life,” said Groves, who won bronze a day earlier in the 3,000m. “The disappointment of disqualification will melt away pretty quickly. It’s an opportunity for me to learn a big lesson.”

Nesbitt said she was pleased with her race but disappointed with Groves’ disqualification.

“Kristina beat us all as far as we’re concerned,” said the 23-year-old from London, ON. “I was in fourth today and I didn’t deserve to be on the podium. It’s nice to get a medal but not like this.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Friesinger, who called the new puck disqualification rule “too tough.”

“I wanna win everywhere . . . (but) this gold is not shining as it has to shine,” she said. “In the past when you pass the line by a little bit, it’s OK. She (Groves) just touched it a little so it’s unfair.”

Shannon Rempel, 24, of Winnipeg, MB, finished 11th with a time of 2:00.68.

Denny Morrison, 23, of Fort St. John, BC, ranked No. 2 in World Cup rankings for this season in the 1,000m, continued staking his claim to the podium with silver in the distance for his time of one minute, nine seconds. A day earlier, he took bronze in the 1,500m.

Nineteen-year-old American skater Trevor Marsicano took gold with a time of 1.08.96, while world-record holder and his U.S. teammate Shani Davis settled for bronze with a time of 1:09.02.

“I could have taken off three or four tenths of a second. It was a close race, any three of us could’ve won,” said Morrison of the three North American skaters who also dominated the podium on Thursday. “I’ll probably have some nightmares for a week but I’ll get over it. It was a pretty good race for me.”

Kyle Parrot, 23, of Minnedosa, MB, briefly set a new track record at the Richmond Olympic Oval with his time of 1:10.15 until it was shattered by Marsicano. He eventually finished ninth, while François-Olivier Roberge, 23, of St-Nicolas, Que., finished 16th.

World Cup champion Sven Kramer of the Netherlands won a hat trick in the 5,000m with a time of 6:16.20 – a feat only accomplished once before at the World Single Distance Championships by his countryman Gianni Romme. Norwegian Håvard Bøkko won silver with a time of 6:18.02, while Marsicano of the U.S. came third at 6:20.06.

In the men’s 5,000m, the top Canadian finish was tenth by Lucas Makowsky, 21, of Regina, SK who scored a time of 6:35.37. Jay Morrison, 25, of Fort St. John, BC, skated to 16th, while Steven Elm, 33, of Red Deer, AB, landed in 20th spot.

So far, the Canadian speed skating team has won four medals – two from Morrison and one apiece for Groves and Nesbitt – at the Richmond Olympic Oval, where medals will be decided at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games in less than a year’s time.

Approximately 160 athletes representing 19 countries are competing at the Oval from March 12 to 15 in this last competition of the 2008–09 ISU season. Canada has a team of 15 athletes in total at the event, which is a chance for them to pre-qualify for the Games.

On Saturday, the women’s 1,000m and 5,000m will be held, along with the men’s 10,000m.

Complete results can be found at http://www.speedskatingrichmond2009.com/

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