Christine Nesbitt - World Sprint Long Track Champion

At her first-ever World Sprint competition Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) accomplished what she never thought possible this weekend, becoming the World Sprint Long Track Champion, capping off a weekend of incredible skating from Team Canada.

“I never thought my 500m races would be good enough to compete with these girls,” she commented. Regardless of her surprise, results speak for themselves; in the second 500m race of the weekend, Nesbitt demonstrated she’s an undeniable force to be reckoned with, earning an impressive third place in 38.45 – behind Germany’s Jenny Wolf who took the win in 38.33, and the Netherlands’ Margot Boer who crossed the line in 38.44 for second place.

Christine Nesbitt just received her World Sprint Champion crown, Photo: Philippe Riopel
Canadian Long Track Team Coach Mark Wild added “Today’s third place is her best career result ever in the 500m, and her first time on the podium in that event, I think it’s a breakthrough for her.” When asked about the key to her success this weekend, the answer was direct “Christine stayed very focused over the weekend, she was able to skate four great races. She always knew she had the potential to do what she did today, and I think it really puts her on the map in terms of being a full sprint athlete.”

Nesbitt again laid waste to her competition in the 1000m event – indisputably taking first place with a time of 1:15.39. The Netherlands’ Ireen Wust came in behind Nesbitt with a time of 1:15.93, followed by fellow Dutchwoman Laurine van Riessen in 1:16.61.

“Winning here in Heerenveen is really special to me, there’s such a history of speed skating here,” Nesbitt enthused. “They have one of the oldest ovals, the crowds are great, and there are lot of unique traditions. When the winners are crowned, they’re taken around the oval in a Friessian horse-drawn sleigh, there’s a band playing, and everyone stays to watch and cheer. It would sort of be like winning the Stanley Cup in Montreal I think,” she laughed.

Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) finished the weekend with more solid racing – skating to 13th place in the 500m with 39.11; in the 1000m event she earned tenth place in 1:17.81. In the overall rankings, she finished 13th - results that clearly demonstrate Rempel’s hard work is paying off with consistent performances.

Completing the World Sprint Championship podium on the women’s side was Germany’s Jenny Wolf - earning the silver, and the Netherlands’ Annette Gerritsen taking home the bronze.

Gregg and Morrison - Sixth and Seventh Overall

Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) clearly made good on his intention to skate well today, Sunday, in Heerenveen, finishing an impressive fifth place in the 500m event in a time of 35.10. The event was won by Korea’s Kyou-Hyuk Lee in 34.77, followed by Dutch skater Jan Smeekens with 34.99; third was won by Korean skater Tae Bum Mo in 35.01.

Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) came in 22nd place in the 500m event, crossing the line in 35.86, but Morrison came roaring back in the 1000m event for fifth place in 1:09.14. Gregg also put in an excellent 1000m skate, placing eighth in 1:09.99. The 1000m event was won by American Shani Davis who crossed the line in 1:08.76, followed by The Netherlands’ Stefan Groothuis in 1:08.82, and Korea’s Tae-Bum Mo in third with 1:08.95.

In terms of overall rankings, Jamie Gregg finished in sixth place, with Denny Morrison right behind him in seventh place. National Long Track Team Coach Mark Wild was pleased with the men’s performances, “Both of the guys had great results this weekend. Jamie was less than one hundredths of a second from fifth place overall; the men’s rankings were so tight this year.”

Korean’s Kyou-Hyuk Lee takes the Men’s World Sprint Long Track Championship title, while Tae Bum Mo earned silver, and American Shani Davis took home the bronze medal.

Next weekend, January 28-30, Team Canada speed skaters will be in Moscow, Russia for another weekend of World Cup competition.