Cindy Klassen & Arne Dankers solidify World Cup team spots with wins at trials

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg and Arne Dankers of Calgary won the women’s 3,000 and men’s 5,000-metre races respectively on Thursday to conclude the Canadian World Cup team trials at the Olympic Oval.

In the women’s 3,000, Klassen dominated the competition clocking 4:05.72 seconds. Michelle D’Amours of Ste-Foy, Que., was second in 4:15.75 while Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., was third in 4:18.47.

Klassen, the world all around champion two seasons ago and an Olympic bronze medallist in Salt Lake City, missed most of last season after cutting her arm in an on-ice practice exactly one year ago.

"Mentally it’s been a little hard going round the corners at top speed but it’s getting better and better," said Klassen, 25, in her fifth season on the national team. "I’m training with the sprinters this year which is a change for me. I’m trying to work on my starts and top-end speed which have never been my strengths. My big goal this season is to win gold at the world single distance championships which is a mini-Olympics for us."

Risling, Kristina Groves of Ottawa and Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., were pre-qualified for the World Cup in the 3,000 while Klassen and d’Amours added their names with their performances on Thursday.

In the men’s 5,000, Dankers was an easy winner in 6:33.00 with Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., second in 6:40.29 and Jamie Ivey of Ottawa third in 6:40.49. Dankers was pre-qualified while Morrison and Ivey add their names.

"I’m an old fogy around here so it’s about time I got back on track," said Ivey, 28, who has competed at five World Cup races in his career. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well here because international experience will be huge heading into an Olympic year next season."

The 13-member Canadian team for the all around World Cup events is now finalized: for the men it is Dankers and Denny Morrison in both the 1,500 and 5,000; Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., and Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., in the 1,500 and Ivey in the 5,000.

For the women it’s Groves, Klassen and Hughes in the 1,500 and 3,000; Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg in the 1,500 and D’Amours and Risling in the 3,000.

There are five stops on the all around World Cups starting November 13-14 in Hamar, Norway. The all around worlds are February 5-6 in Moscow the world single distance championships March 3-6 in Inzell, Germany, the world juniors February 18-20 in Finland while the Canadian all around championships are December 20-22 in Calgary.

The World Cup trials for the sprinters featuring world champion Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer is November 17-18.