Groves & Nesbitt share speed skating World Cup podium again

This season’s Canadian ‘speed queens’ Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) and Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) shared the podium today to collect a silver and bronze medal for their 1500m performances at World Cup #8 in the Netherlands.

“I was pretty nervous before my race, but when the gun went off I opened really fast, one of my fastest openers in the 1500m, and I had a great first lap,” said Nesbitt, who finished second in 1:57.58. Germany’s Anni Friesinger was first in 1:57.48.

“I have been on the road for four weeks now and have been struggling a bit with my technique,” described Nesbitt about her nerves. The 2006 Olympic silver medalist missed the podium at World Cup #7 in Germany. She bounced back at the World Allround Championships a week later, collecting first place in the 500m and second in the 1500m.

This is the sixth time this season Nesbitt and Groves have been on the podium together, at either a World Cup or the World Allround Championships.

“It is a neat thing for us and shows how strong we are as a team. The depth on our team has just gotten better and better in the last few years. It is a pretty great team to be on,” said Groves, who shared the 2006 Olympic podium with fellow Canadian Cindy Klassen to collect her silver medal.

“I have to say it wasn’t my best skating. I wasn’t quite as focused as I could’ve been,” said Groves about her race today, which she finished in 1:58.40. “For me, I was pretty surprised with my end result just because I didn’t think I skated my best. I was happy to be on the podium.”

Also in the race for Canada was Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB), who has previous experience sharing the podium as well. At the Berlin World Cup in November, Groves, Schussler and Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) finished first, second and third in the 1500m to sweep the podium for Canada.

Schussler finished seventh today in 1:59.87 and Nicole Garrido (Edmonton, AB) competed in the 1500m B races and finished third.

The men raced in the 10,000m with the top long distance skater in the world, Sven Kramer, of the Netherlands, winning gold in 13:03.51. Silver and bronze went to Havard Bokko, of Norway, and Bob de Jong, of the Netherlands. Canada’s only competitor in the A division was Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK), who came seventh in 13:32.09.

In the 10,000m B races Canada had four athletes racing including Jay Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) with the best results; ninth place in 13:45.26. Jordan Belchos (Markham, ON), Mathieu Giroux (Montreal, QC) and Steven Elm (Red Deer, AB) finished in 12th, 13th and 17th.

Canada’s senior long track speed skaters can now return home for a few weeks before the last stop on the World Cup circuit; the World Cup Final in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 6-8.

Complete race results are available on the ISU web site (http://www.isu.org/).