Canadian women sweep medals in 3,000 at speed skating World Cup

Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes, both Winnipeg and Kristina Groves of Ottawa swept the medals in the women’s 3,000 metres on Friday night to open the second stop on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit.

Klassen, the Olympic bronze medallist in the event here in 2002, took the gold with a track record three minutes and 56.90 seconds with Hughes second in a personal best 3:59.06 and Groves third in 3:59.77.

“I’m having a great start to the season but to have the three of us on the podium makes it all so sweet, it’s awesome,” said Klassen, who also won the 3,000 at the season opening World Cup last week in Calgary in world record time. “You’re a bit higher in altitude here so you can feel it more in your lungs but otherwise it’s a similar track to Calgary, so I felt very comfortable.”

Hughes corrected some errors she had made at last week’s World Cup.

“I had been having some technical difficulties this year and tonight I felt I just went out there and skated,” said Hughes. “I always love skating here and I consistently do well here. I just thought, as long as I relax and improve my technique I could have the race that I wanted. I’m really thrilled.”

Groves continued to her strong start to the season.

“Consistency was the key for me tonight,” said Groves. “I’ve gotten up to a certain level now and stayed there. I started faster which made me a bit apprehensive so I’ll probably approach that differently in the next race. You want to hit a good rhythm off the bat. I’m so pumped we went 1-2-3. It’s really cool.”

In the men’s 1,500, there was more good news for Canada as Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., broke the Canadian record for the third time this year clocking 1:43.89 for fourth place. His previous mark was 1:44.10 set last week in Calgary.

Chad Hedrick led the U.S., to a 1-2 finish clocking a world record 1:42.78 eclipsing the 1:43.33 skated by compatriot Shani Davis here last season. Davis was second in Friday’s race in 1:43.41.

Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was eighth in 1:44.95, Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., 12th in 1:45.43 and Jay Morrison of Fort St. John 17th in 1:46.79.

In the women’s 500, Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was seventh, Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., 28th, Kim Weger of Regina 29th, Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., 37th and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg 42nd.

In the women’s 1,000, Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was eighth, Rempel ninth, Simpson 22nd, Schussler 25th and Weger 35th.

In the group B women’s 3,000, Michele d’Amours and Marilou Asselin, both of Ste-Foy were 15th and 27th.