Cindy Klassen wins bronze at world sprint championships

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg kicked-off her international season on Saturday with a bronze medal performance in the women’s 1,000 metres at the world sprint championships in long track speed skating.

Anni Friesinger of Germany won the gold medal in one minute and 15.12 seconds with Ireen Wust of the Netherlands second in 1:15.29 and Klassen third in 1:15.57. Kristina Groves of Ottawa was fourth in 1:16.13 and Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg fifth in 1:16.40.

“It was great to be back in an international setting,” said Klassen, who earned one of her five medals at the Turin Olympics in the 1,000 placing second. “And this is an event I’ve always enjoyed competing in. I was pleased with my day overall. The 1,000 went pretty well but I was starting to feel the strain in the legs in the last 200. I wasn’t too nervous because I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of results.”

With the victory, Friesinger leads the overall standings at 75.980 points after two of four races. Wust is second at 76.605 and Chiara Simionato of Italy third at 76.795.

Klassen, also 16th in the opening 500-metre in Saturday, is fourth overall at 76.856, Rempel is sixth at 77.050 and Groves 12th at 77.455. In the 500, Rempel was 11th and Groves 22nd.

Jenny Wolf of Germany won the 500 but was disqualified in the 1,000.

In men’s competition, Pekka Koskela of Finland, who has three World Cup wins this season, took the 500 and stands first overall at 69.315 after two of four races. Kyou-Hyuk Lee of South Korea is second at 69.390 and Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands third at 69.535.

Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., making his world sprints debut, was fourth in the 1,000 missing the podium by a mere 0.01 seconds. He was also 23rd in the 500 and is ninth overall at 70.200.

Shani Davis of the U.S., who was paired with Morrison, won the 1,000 in 1:08.41, Lee was second in 1:08.56 and Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands third in 1:08.67.

“Shani has always been a good pair for me,” said Morrison, a 1,000 and 1,500 specialist. “We trained together for awhile and I like his style. We pushed each other pretty hard today. This compeetition is definitely a new experience for me. My 500 was a good time for me personally. But I’m feeling really good right now and I want to come back with better performances tomorrow (Sunday).

Two Canadians had some bad luck. Mike Ireland of Winnipeg fell in the 500, twisted his ankle and withdrew from the competition. Brock Miron of Calgary broke his blade in the 500 and finished 36th. However he rebounded with an excellent 12th place in the 1,000.

Competition ends Sunday.