Cindy Klassen & Denny Morrison open speed skating worlds with medal performances

Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., and Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg won silver and bronze medals in their respective 500-metre races on Friday at the all around world championships in long track speed skating.

In the men’s 500, Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands took the gold in 35.79 seconds with Morrison second in 35.81 and Shani Davis of the U.S., third in 35.84. At last year’s worlds Morrison was fourth in the 500.

Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was 10th, Justin Warsylewicz of Regina 13th and Arne Dankers of Calgary 23rd.

In the men’s 5,000, Sven Kramer led the Netherlands to a 1-2 finish clocking 6:12.97 with Carl Verheijen second in 6:16.16. Enrico Fabris of Italy was third in 6:19.10. Kramer and Fabris won silver and bronze at the Olympics last year.

Dankers, paired with Fabris, took sixth spot in 6:24.29 while Warsylewicz was 12th, Morrison 15th and Elm 22nd.

Overall after two of four distances, Kramer leads with 73.707 points with Fabris second at 74.180 and Davis, the defending overall champion, third at 74.460. Morrison is eighth at 75.277, Warsylewicz13th, Elm 15th and Dankers 17th.

The women only raced the 500 on Friday with Anni Friesinger of Germany earning the gold in 38.38. Ireen Wust of the Netherlands was second in 38.44 and Klassen, the defending overall champion, third in 38.68.

“This is a great start for Cindy,” said Klassen’s coach Neal Marshall. “She wanted to get a strong time in this event and it sets up her up well for the rest of the competition.”

Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was sixth, Kristina Groves of Ottawa ninth and Clara Hughes of Winnipeg 23rd.

Competition continues through to Sunday.