Great season for Canadian speed skaters continues with three medals at World Cup

There was more success for Canada in World Cup long track speed skating on Saturday with Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg and Kristina Groves of Ottawa placing second and third in the women’s 3,000 metres and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., adding a bronze in the men’s 1,000.

In the women’s 3,000, Anni Friesinger of Germany won her second gold in two days clocking four minutes and 05.46 seconds. Klassen, in the last pair of the day, was second in 4:05.70 and Groves followed for the bronze in 4:08.51 for her fourth medal this season. Clara Hughes of Winnipeg was fifth in 4:09.48.

“The last lap hurt me but the rest of the race was very steady and I was really happy with it,” said Klassen, with seven World Cup medals this season. “I tried to hold my technique for most the race and stay relaxed and I was able to do that. But it’s the final lap that seems to get me all the time so I really want to work on that from now until the Games.”

In the middle and long distance events (1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 metres) Canadian women have scooped up an amazing 14 of the 24 World Cup medals this season. Their next major international races in those distances are back here in February at the Olympic Games.

“It shows how much our team has been improving,” said Klassen. It’s really exciting for the Olympics.”

In the B Group Michele d’Amours of Ste-Foy, Que., was fifth.

Klassen has a stranglehold on the 3,000\5,000 World Cup title with 350 points after four of five races, Hughes is second at 266 while Groves is fifth at 224.

In the men’s 1,000, Dmitri Dorofeyev of Russia took the gold in 1:10.02, Yusuke Imai of Japan was second in 1:10.08 and Morrison, a national team sophomore, continued his international breakthrough season placing third in 1:10.13 for his first career World Cup medal.

“It feels really good to finally get on the podium after some fourth place finishes,” said Morrison, 20, who has two fourth place finishes in the 1,500 this season, traditionally his best event. “I’m a bit surprised my first medal would be in the 1,000 I usually consider this race a warm-up for the 1,500. But it came together for me and I want to carry that momentum.”

Morrison was in the third of 10 pairs and watched all but two skaters fail to beat his time.

“I didn’t get too worked up about my result,” said Morrison. “It was actually kind of neat watching all the pairs missing my time. When I was done I thought for sure I wouldn’t be in contention for a medal.”

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., was 11th. In the B Group, Francois-Olivier Roberge of Ste-Foy, Que., was third and Vincent Labrie of Ste-Foy 10th.

American Shani Davis continues to lead the 1,000 World Cup standings with 400 points followed by Wotherspoon at 294 after five of 10 races.

In the women’s 500, Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was eighth. In the B Group Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., was sixth.

In the men’s 3,200-metre pursuit Canada 1 was 10th and Canada 2 placed 15th.

Competition ends Sunday.