Cindy Klassen wins World Cup gold

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg beat two of her biggest rivals in the sport to win the gold medal in the women’s 1,000 metres on Saturday at a World Cup long track speed skating competition.

Klassen, in her first World Cup race this season, clocked 1:16.55. Anni Friesinger of Germany, who won the first three 1,000-metre races this season, was second at 1:16.70 and World Cup leader Chiara Simionato of Italy was third at 1:17.23.

Because she missed the pre-Christmas World Cups, Klassen raced early in the competition. She was in the third pair of the day with American Chris Witty. She never thought no one in the next nine pairs would fail to match her time.

“I was hurting so much in the last lap and felt like I lost so much time that I didn’t think I would wind up with the win,” said Klassen, a five-time Olympic medallist at the Turin Olympics last year, who focused on training in the fall after a busy off-season. “But I had a great first lap, one of my best ever. Overall I was pleased I think my endurance will improve with every race.”

Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg, second the 1,000 World Cup standings, was sixth at 1:17.97.

In the men's 500, Pekka Koskela of Finland was the winner in 35.26 with Tucker Fredericks of the U.S., second in 35.31 and Dmitry Lobkov of Russia third at 35.46.

Brock Miron of Calgary was sixth in 35.62, the best 500 result of his career. Mike Ireland of Winnipeg was 11th and Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., was 19th.

“This is the first time this year I’ve done a 500 the way I wanted,” said Miron, in his fourth season on the national team. “My biggest problem has been my first 100-metres and today I had a lot better execution. In the 500, the better the opener, usually, the better the result.”

Shani Davis of the U.S., won the men's 1,000 in 1:08.91 while Francois-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., was seventh in 1:10.00, Miron 13th and Labrie 19th.

Jeff Kitura of Langley, B.C., on the comeback trail after a concussion cost him a season, was fourth in the B Group race.

Jenny Wolf of Germany won the women's 500 with Rempel seventh, Kim Weger of Regina 16th, Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg 17th and Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., 19th.

Competition ends Sunday.