Double gold for Jeremy Wotherspoon at speed skating World Cup

KEARNS, Utah- Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., delivered a double gold performance on Sunday with victories in the 500 and 1,000 metre races to conclude an exceptional performance at the opening stop on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit.

With the wins, Wotherspoon now has a career leading 60 victories in men’s World Cup competition. Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg and Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., added silver and bronze medals respectively. This weekend Canada collected in total four gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

In Sunday’s men’s 1,000, Wotherspoon and Shani Davis of the U.S., went head to head in the final pair of the day with Wotherspoon edging the American by a mere 0.01 seconds. Wotherspoon lowered his personal best to 1:07.03 while Davis Clocked 1:07.04. Kyou-Hyuk Lee of South Korea was third in 1:07.07.

‘’I didn’t know what to expect coming into this season and things have gone really well for me,’’ said Wotherspoon, who sat out last season to ponder his speed skating future. ‘’All the training we did in the summer has really had an effect.’’

Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., was eighth, François-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., 23rd and Jeff Kitura of Langley, B.C., 25th. Steven Elm of Red Deer tied for first in the B Group race.

In the men’s 500, Wotherspoon was again in the final pair, this time with Kang Seok-Lee of South Korea. Wotherspoon clocked 34.14 just off his 34.03 world record performance on Friday. Lee followed in 34.23 and Fengtong Yu of China was third in 34.49.

‘’This is in no way the best that I can do because I’ve hardly been back at it,’’ said Wotherspoon who ended the weekend with three gold and a bronze. ‘’So I’m excited to see what else I can do in the future. I’m better now than I was before but definitely not perfect.’’

Mike Ireland of Winnipeg was 11th. In the B Group, Mark Nielsen of Calgary, Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., and Jaimie Gregg of Edmonton were second, third and fifth.

In the women’s 3,000, Martina Sablikova took the gold in 3:57.98, Klassen followed in 3:59.37 for her first medal this season and Renate Groenewold of the Netherlands was third in 3:59.79. Kristina Groves of Ottawa was fifth and Clara Hughes of Winniepg seventh.

‘’I tried to go out on a steady pace and keep the lap times even,’’ said Klassen. ‘’And I felt I did that well. I knew I was in for a slow start and this weekend I felt my speed was getting a bit better. Overall I’m pretty happy with my performances.’’

Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was 11th and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg 19th.

In the women’s 1,000, Chiara Simionato of Italy was the winner in 1:13.47, Anni Friesinger of Germany second in 1:13.71 and Nesbitt, paired with Simionato, was third in 1:13.92. Nesbitt also won gold in Saturday’s 1,500.

‘’Simionato starts very fast so it was good to have a pair to really push me,’’ said Nesbitt who posted personal bests in her four races this weekend. ‘’ It was a really positive race and I didn’t psych myself out. I did everything better technically than I’ve ever done before.’’

Three other Canadians were in the top-10: Klassen was fifth, Shannon Rempel of Winning ninth and Groves 10th. Schussler was 13th.

The next stop on the circuit starts this Friday at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.