Canada’s Arne Dankers beats Olympic champion at world speed skating qualifier

Arne Dankers of Calgary won a head-to head battle with Olympic champion Chad Hendrick of the U.S., on Saturday for the victory in the men’s 5,000-metres to open the North American qualifying event for the all around world championships in long track speed skating.

Dankers clocked six minutes and 31.90 seconds pulling away from the American with about four laps to go. Hendrick clocked 6:33.94 while Justin Warsylewicz of Regina was third in 6:40.67. Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was fourth, Lucas Makowsky of Regina fifth, Neal Zaluski of Moose Jaw, Sask., seventh and Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., eighth.

“It was a great race, we really battled each other and didn’t worry about the time,” said Dankers, fifth at the Olympics in the 5,000. “When I passed him he responded but he didn’t have enough to come back. I didn’t know what to expect from him in the race because he’s been a bit inconsistent this season. But I have to rank this among my most satisfying moments for sure. He’s a guy that detests losing.”

Morrison won the 500 in 37.22 with Elm second in 37.26 and Hendrick third in 37.47. Zaluski was fourth, Makowsky sixth, Warsylewicz seventh and Dankers ninth.

In the overall standings after two of four events, Hendrick leads at 76.864 points, Dankers is second at 77.630 and Elm third at 77.634. Warsylewicz is fourth at 77.817, Makowsky fifth at 78.173, Morrison sixth at 78.789 and Zaluski seventh at 79.156.

In women’s competition, Clara Hughes of Winnipeg took the 3,000 in 4:12.92 with Kristina Groves of Ottawa second in 4:13.91. Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was fourth, Shannon Sibold of Calgary sixth, Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg ninth and Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., 10th.

In the 500, Nesbitt won the gold in 39.83 with Groves second in 40.16 and Schussler third in 41.05. Risling was seventh, Hughes eighth and Sibold ninth.

Overall after two of four races, Groves leads at 82.478, Nesbitt is second at 83.183 and Catherine Raney of the U.S., third at 84.530. Hughes is fourth at 84.863, Schussler fifth at 86.430, Sibold ninth at 87.586 and Risling 10th at 88.613.

The top-six overall (maximum four per country) qualify for the all around worlds set for February 9-11 in Heerenveen, the Netherlands