Canada claims its fifth medal at world speed skating championships

Double world champion Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg helped Canada to the silver medal in the 2,400 metre women’s pursuit race on Saturday at the long track speed skating world single distance championships.

The team pursuit, a new official event for the 2006 Olympics, is similar to the track cycling pursuit. It sees two teams of three skaters start at opposite sides of the track and skate six laps against the clock with the best time winning.

The silver was Canada’s fifth medal of the competition, one shy of its team record of six at this event set in 1998 and 2004. There is one day of competition remaining. The Canadians lead the medal count at two gold, a silver and two bronze so far, the Netherlands also have five medals at 1-3-1 while the U.S., has two gold and a bronze.

Germany led by world all around champion Anni Friesinger took the pursuit gold in 3:05.81 for its third medal of the competition and first gold. Klassen teamed with Ottawa's Kristina Groves and Winnipeg’s Clara Hughes for second spot in 3:07.01 seconds. Japan was third in 3:12.05.

In World Cup competition this season, the Canadians won the two pursuit races they entered this season. It withdrew from the third one last month when most of the team was afflicted with the flu. The Germans best result this year on the World Cup was a fourth.

“The Germans iced a different line-up than usual and we knew going in they would be the team to beat,” said Klassen, who has collected three medals this week with victories in the 3,000 on Friday and 1,500 on Thursday and has seven career world single distance championships medals.

“But obviously with our success this year we were gunning for the win. We raced very well and when we got the lead we tried to go as hard as possible. There’s certainly things we need to work on to improve but we learned some tricks and some strategies this season.”

Norway's Even Wetten took the gold in the men's 1,000 race, setting a track record of 1:10.10. Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., was eighth in 1:11.04. Steven Elm of Red Deer was 20th and Brock Miron of Calgary was 21st.

In the women’s 500, China's Manli Wang retained her title beating out compatriot Beixing Wang. Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was 13th, Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., 19th and Kim Weger of Regina 20th.

In the men’s 10,000, Bob de Jong led the Dutch to a 1-2 finish. Arne Dankers of Calgary was 15th.

Competition ends Sunday.