Gregg wins gold at World Cup Final

Gregg wins gold at World Cup Final in Berlin

BERLIN, Germany – Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg won his first career World Cup gold medal today claiming the 500 metres in time of 35.06 seconds at the ISU World Cup Final in Berlin, Germany. Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was Canada’s top female skater finishing fourth in the 500 metres in a time of 38.39 seconds, but just two one hundreds of a second from the bronze medal.

Gregg, who turns 27 on March 18, edged out Pekka Koskela of Finland by 0.01 seconds (35.07) and Tae-Bum Mo of South Korea by 0.11 seconds (35.17). World Cup leader in the 500 metres with 610 points, American Tucker Fredricks finished 14th in a time of 35.43 seconds. Koskela is second (584), Mo is third (582) and Gregg is seventh (436). One more 500-metre race will be skated tomorrow to determine the overall champion.

“I was happy with my race. I think I had two technical points that I was focusing on: trying to skate relaxed and skate with my shoulders up," said Gregg MP3 audio file. "I was able to do both of those and it translated to a fast time. I was happy with that.

“I knew it was good race when I finished it. But I knew that Berlin usually has faster ice, and so I didn't think that time would hold up to be the winner. I was hoping just to get a medal. Then I was just pretty happy when I saw it ended up being a gold medal.

“I was able to relax before the race. It was a nice sunny day in Berlin. I went out to a field before my race and lay down," reflected Gregg. "That's what kind of helped me out - the sun in Berlin.”

Calgary’s Gilmore Junio was 20th (35.76) in the 500 metres, William Dutton of Humbolt, Sask., was 21st (35.77) and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, Que., took (35.97) 23rd place.

In the women’s 500 metres, Nesbitt was 0.45 seconds off the winning time of 37.94 seconds by Jing Yu of China, but she was only 0.02 seconds from the bronze medal won by Germany’s Jenny Wolf (38.37). Sang-Hwa Lee of South Korea took second place (38.00). Calgary’s Anastasia Bucsis and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., were 15th (38.88) and 22nd (39.51), respectively, in the first 500-metre race of the weekend.

With one World Cup 500-metre race remaining, Yu leads the 500-metre ranking with 810 points, followed by Wolf (779) and Lee (770). Nesbitt is the top Canadian in 10th spot with 307 points.

In the women’s 3,000 metres, Winnipeggers Brittany Schussler and Cindy Klassen were 11th and 17th, respectively. Schussler finished in a time of 4:12.95 and Klassen in 4:14.97. Marina Sablikova of the Czech Republic crossed the finish line 4:03.14 to take the gold medal. Sablikova was also the season champion in the 3,000 metres with 650 points, while Klassen was seventh (225 points) and Schussler 20th (84 points).

In the men’s 1,500 metres, Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., had a time of one minute and 48.37 seconds to finish in ninth place. Regina’s Lucas Makowsky had a time of 1:49.68 in his pair to take 20th spot. Havard Bokko of Norway won in a time of 1:47.49. Dutch skaters Kjeld Nuis (1:47.69) and Koen Verweij (1:47.72) were second and third, respectively. In the season final ranking, Morrison finished in fourth place with 312 points. Bokko won the title with 472 points, while Nuis was second (430) and American Shani Davis was third (425).

The ISU introduced this season a new award, the men’s and women’s Grand World Cup winner, which comes with a $20,000 U.S. prize from Essent. For each competition in the individual distances, the top five ranked skaters earned “Grand World Cup points”. After today’s races, Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands leads the men with 72.5 points. Canada’s Morrison is fifth with 43.0 points. Ireen Wust of the Netherlands has 85.0 points for first place, followed by Nesbitt at 79.5.

The World Cup resumes Saturday with the second 500 metres, as well as the women’s 1,500 and men’s 5,000-metre distance. The World Cup season wraps-up Sunday with the men’s and women’s 1,000 metres, mass start and team pursuit.

The long track season ends in Heerenveen, Netherlands, with the World Single Distance Championships, from March 22-25.

The World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance is up to $44,000 (22 gold medals, 15 silver and seven bronze). Intact Insurance will award $1,000 in cash and prizes to a local speed skating club with each individual medal win. Last season, Intact Insurance awarded more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.