Canada Day at speed skating worlds: gold for Jeremy Wotherspoon & Kristina Groves

NAGANO, Japan – Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., and Kristina Groves of Ottawa both clocked track record times en route to gold medal performances in the men’s 500-metre and women’s 3,000 respectively on Friday at the long track speed skating world single distance championships.

The men’s 500 was a two-race combined time event. Wotherspoon clocked new rink records of 34.78 and 34.68 seconds for a 69.460 total for his third career world title at the distance and 10th medal overall at these championships.

The victory caps a remarkable year for Wotherspoon in the 500 after sitting out all of last season to contemplate his speed skating future.

‘’I’ve been really happy that I’ve been able to stay consistently at the top,’’ said

Kristina Groves, Photo: Tony Field
Wotherspoon, who won nine of 10 500–metre races on the World Cup this season to take the season title.

‘’It just confirms for me that I did the right thing last season taking a break. I was ready to race this weekend and do things right.’’

The key to Wotherspoon’s success Friday was the first part of his race

‘’I’d been working on my start and building speed through the first turn the last couple of weeks in practice,’’ said Wotherspoon. ‘’I didn’t think I was at my best in those two aspects at the last World Cups. But today I brought those into the race really well. That’s a big reason I was able to do so well today.’’

Defending champion Lee Kyou-Hyuk of South Korea clocked 35.11 and 34.90 for 70.010 for silver, followed by 2005 champion Joji Kato of Japan, third in 35.25 and 35.07 for 70.320. Mike Ireland of Winnipeg was eighth.

Earlier, Groves took the women's 3,000 in a time of 4:05.03 for her first career world title. She now has seven career world championship medals. On Thursday she opened with a bronze in the 1,500.

‘’It’s a great thrill to say world champion,’’ said Groves. ‘’I think I won the race in the fifth and sixth laps. That’s where I gained on the field. I didn’t start as fast as some of the other girls. I had to make some ground towards the end.’’

Groves is a model of perseverance. She has been on the national team for 11 years and has improved every season.

‘’I great deal of satisfaction that all the hard work I’ve done over the years has paid off,’’ said Groves, 31. ‘’It’s hard to describe the feelings you have when a race like that happens. Everything comes together at the right time and the right place.

‘’It’s not chance. It’s the product of years and years of hard work. This is what we all strive for.’’

Paulien van Deutekom of the Netherlands was second in 4:05.49 and Daniela Anschutz-Thoms of Germany third in 4:05.76.

Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., was sixth and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg 13th.

Competition continues Saturday featuring Groves in the women’s pursuit and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., in the men’s 1,000.