Canada concludes successful first half to long track speed skating World Cup season

ERFURT, Germany – Something unusual happened at the long track speed skating World Cup competition on Sunday. Canada didn’t win a medal. But that didn’t damper an impressive first half to the 2007-08 season for the Canadians.

Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., and Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg were both edged out for a podium spot finishing fourth in their respective 1,000 metre races after medal performances at the distance on Saturday. It was the last day of competition before the Christmas break and concludes three consecutive weekends of World Cup events in Europe.

There have been five World Cup competitions so far this season encompassing 13 days of racing. Sunday was the first day a Canadian was not on the podium. In all, Canada has collected nine gold, 15 silver and six bronze medals this season on the World Cup.

In the men’s 1,000, Jan Bos of the Netherlands won the gold medal in 1:08.98 with Shani Davis of the U.S., second in 1:09.02 and Joon Mun of South Korea third in 1:09.26. Morrison was fourth in 1:09.48 after three consecutive medal performances at the distance.

Davis still leads the 1,000 World Cup standings with 510 points followed by Morrison at 356. Bos is third at 337.

In the women’s 1,000 Anni Friesinger of Germany continued her torrid pace with a victory in 1:15.64 for her fourth straight win at the distance. Ireen Wust of the Netherlands was second in 1:16.11 and Chiara Simionato of Italy third in 1:16.49.

Klassen was fourth in 1:16.92 and Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg sixth in 1:17.46. Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg was 11th. Klassen is third in the World Cup standings.

In the men’s 500, Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., was eighth, Mike Ireland of Winnipeg 11th and Morrison 17th. Labrie and Ireland also tied for eighth in the men’s 100-metre.

In the women’s 500, Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was 15th and Kim Weger of Regina 20th.

In the B Group races, Klassen won the 500 with Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg fifth and sixth; Wotherspoon was sixth in the 1,000; Muncef Ouardi of Montreal and Jeff Kitura of Langley, B.C., were sixth and 20th in the men’s 500 and 13th and 14th in the 1,000.