Christine Nesbitt - Canada’s Speed Skating Golden Girl
Kristina Groves Within Six one-hundredths of a second to a Podium Finish

Richmond, BC (Sportcom) – Matchless in the 1000m event since the beginning of the season, long track speed skater Christine Nesbitt had the weight of the world’s expectations and predictions on her shoulders when she took to the ice today at the Richmond Oval.  She battled nervousness, but went on to win her first individual Olympic title, adding to her silver medal from the team pursuit race at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

Nesbitt, from London, Ontario, skated the distance in 1:16.56 – ahead of the Netherland’s silver medalist Annette Gerritsen (1:16.58) by a mere two one-hundredths of a second.  Laurine van Riessen, also from the Netherlands, skated to bronze (1:16.72).  In fourth place was Ottawa’s Kristina Groves, behind by the smallest of margins – six one hundredths of a second.

Nesbitt – A Taskmaster on Skates
Christine Nesbitt worked hard for her medal today; after a difficult start, she never gave up, battling until the very end of the race. “I was really nervous this morning. As soon as the gun went off, instead of skating I kind of panicked. I slipped two or three steps into the race; if you start a sprint badly it’s often very difficult to get out of it.  I’m pretty sure that is what happened.”

After 600m of racing, the skater coached by Marcel Lacroix didn’t seem to be in contention for the podium – her time placed her in ninth.  However, Nesbitt’s hidden ace is the fact that she’s always stronger in the second half of the race; she completed the last 400m of the race fueled by her fervent desire for a gold medal.  Contemplative, she mentioned that her skating was not to her liking today, “I’m still reflecting a lot on my race, it wasn’t pretty; I know it wasn’t. I’ve skated a lot better 1000m’s this year.  It’s hard for me to not be critical because this is how I improve. I wanted to improve so I could win the Olympics but then, because I’ve been praticing so much, it’s hard for me not to critizise everything I do in skating! I think once I get over that, I will be happy... I am happy now, but I’m kind of back and forth, because it was so close, I can’t believe I won. I’ve got mixed emotions.”

According to the 24 year-old skater, its experience that enabled her to succeed in the event today.  “Last year at the World Championships, I had the same start and I was able to finish strong.  I worked hard physically, but also mentally – it’s that element that enabled me to get through it.”
Since her 14th place at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, Nesbitt’s progress has been astounding.  In 2008-2009 she won a World Cup in the 1000m event, and earned the World Championship title in that distance in 2009.  “To be on the podium, after my 14th place at Torino, it’s been quite a trip, its cool. Though I should also skate better in the 1500m…” she mused.

That 1500m event is the specialty of Kristina Groves, who today finished in 4th place and was pleased with her performance.  “It was a good race for me.  I felt pretty good, I was kind of nervous and tight, but it was my best result of the year in the 1000m,” commented the bronze medalist in the 3000m event, held earlier this week.  “This is an incredible result for Christine and for the long track team; we’re all really happy for her.”
Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg) finished in 21st place (1:18.174), and was also contemplative about her skate today, “I’m not exactly sure what the issue is, and that is the problem.  Overall, I felt like I wasn’t generating that much speed during the race.” 

Brittany Schussler, from Winnipeg, took 25th place, skating the 1000m distance in a time of 1:18.31.
The next long track event will be the men’s 1500m, scheduled for February 20th.

Watch the race: CTVolympics.ca

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Written by Sportcom for Speed Skating Canada

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