Canadian Women on Top!

In the final day of Heereveen’s long track World Cup, Canadian women shone – winning gold in the Team Pursuit by an impressive margin, while Christine Nesbitt added to her medal collection with a gold in the 1000m event.

Both men and women took to the ice for 1000m events; in women’s racing, Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) dominated, winning gold in 1:15.47, ahead of the Netherland’s Annette Gerritsen, who won silver in 1:16.03. Dutch skater Natasja Bruintjes earned bronze in 1:16.08. Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) also skated well today, earning sixth in 1:16.62. Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) took 15th in 1:17.98; Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB) was 18th in 1:18.49. In B Division, Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) came fourth in 1:18.59.

“It felt similar to last week; I went a bit faster overall than last week too, so that’s excellent,” confided an excited Nesbitt. When asked about the Dutch skaters that flanked her on the podium, Nesbitt commented, “They always skate well so you can never count them out. There were definitely a few moments where I was worried... but I was kind of happy to break up the Dutch sweep!” she laughed.

In the men’s 1000m event, Kyle Parrott (Minnedosa, AB) skated to a solid 11th place finish in 1:09.76, Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.) came 12th with 1:09.81. Gold was won by American Shani Davis in 1:08.48, the Netherlands’ Simon Kuipers took silver in 1:09.06, and bronze went to Korea’s Tae-Bum Mo in 1:09.11.

Speaking of Morrison’s performances, coach Marcel Lacroix commented “He’s on track, he’s basically following the same pattern as last year. Last week when he medalled it was a bit of a surprise; after Christmas, that’s when he starts performing, so I’m not worried at all,” he confirmed.

In Division B racing, Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was second in 1:10.49, which moves him to Division A for next weekend’s World Cup. François-Olivier Roberge (St. Nicolas, QC) came in ninth in 1:11.27; and Richard MacLennan (Sault Sainte Marie, ON) came 12th in 1:11.64.

Team Pursuits – Canadian Women Excel

Christine Nesbitt, Brittany Schussler and Kristina Groves on top of the podium in Heerenveen, Photo: Arno Hoogveld
Canadian women dominated the field in the team pursuit, winning gold in 3:00.39, with a team consisting of Christine Nesbitt, Kristina Groves, and Brittany Schussler. The trio beat the Netherlands (3:02.12), by almost two seconds; Russia followed, earning bronze in 3:02.40. “We all raced together at the World Championships last year where we won gold, and we used the same tactics,” explained Nesbitt of the Team Pursuit. “We’ve been practising as a team a few times a month. It’s hard to make individual athletes into a team, it’s a different mentality. I think we’re getting better in terms of being a team,” mused Nesbitt.

Canada’s men’s Team Pursuit, with Steven Elm (Red Deer, AB), Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC), and Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK), came 8th overall in 3:47.62. “Up to two laps to go we were on pace for a medal, but there was a bit of miscommunication and we lost a lot of time.” explained coach Marcel Lacroix. “We’ve been trying different combinations for the Team Pursuit; we have six women and six men identified. It’s important to try different things in the World Cups to see who will work best,” he explained.

The Men’s Pursuit was won by the United States of America and the Netherlands who tied in 3:43.94; Italy took bronze in 3:45.62.

Next weekend, long distance skaters will head to Hamar, Norway, for the next World Cup stop. Other skaters will come back to Canada on Monday. Fans of Team Pursuit racing will have to wait until December 4-6 in Calgary to get their fix.