Canada’s Christine Nesbitt wins bronze medal at speed skating World Cup

Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., continued to be the big early-season story for Canada in long track speed skating on Friday as she won the bronze medal in the women’s 1,500 metres to open the second stop on the World Cup circuit.

Anni Friesinger of Germany took the gold in 1:55.54 with Ireen Wust of the Netherlands second in 1:56.18 and Nesbitt third in 1:56.77. It’s been the same top-three for the two 1,500 and two 1,000 metre women’s World Cup races so far this season except last weekend Nesbitt was second in all three races and Wust third.

"It was O.K., but I’m not totally thrilled with it," said Nesbitt, 21, a member of the Olympic silver medal winning pursuit team last winter. "I had a very strong start and that surprised me a bit. My last lap nearly felt like an extra lap, I was so tired. But to be that fast early in the race was unusual for me and should be a good sign for my 1,000 race on Sunday."

Nesbitt never thought she would step on the podium in her first four races this season. Last winter she earned one medal on the World Cup all season.

"My big goal at these World Cups was to be consistent," she said. "I wasn’t even sure I could get medals this early in the season and at this point in my career. It’s pretty cool."

Kristina Groves of Ottawa, paired with Friesinger, was fourth in 1:57.04 and Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was sixth in 1:57.90. In the B Group race, Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg was ninth and Justin L’Heureux of St-Tite, Que., 18th.

"I ended up chasing Anni a bit," said Groves, a double Olympic silver medallist in Turin. "Which is one the things I shouldn’t do. But still it was a pretty good race. I’ve taken a more relax mindset this early in the season and I feel it’s allowed me to step back and identify some areas I need to work on."

Other Canadian results: in the men’s 500, Mike Ireland of Winnipeg posted his best result this season placing eighth while in the B Group Brock Miron of Calgary was fourth, Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., 11th, and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., 14th.

In the men’s 5,000, Arne Dankers of Calgary was eighth and Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., 19th. In the B Group, Mark Jesney of Saskatoon was 15th and Justin Warsylewicz of Regina 18th.

In the women’s 500, Rempel was 19th and Kim Weger of Regina 20th. In the B Group, Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., was fifth Schussler eighth and L’Heureux 14th.

Competition continues through to Sunday.