Groves finishes fifth overall at World Cup speed skating competition

Kristina Groves of Ottawa showed her versatility this weekend as she finished fifth in the overall standings to conclude the second stop on the World Cup long track speed skating circuit.

Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., who won three of the four races in the overall event this weekend, placed first with 158.939 points followed by Renate Gronewold of the Netherlands in second at 161.107 and her compatriot Barbara de Loor third at163.281.

Groves placed sixth in the 1,000 and 14th in the 3,000 on Sunday to tabulate 164.643 points. Just before her 1,000 race, Groves saw Austria's Emese Doerfler-Antal crash in her 1,000 and break her ankle and right leg.

“There was a long delay and I got very cold,” said Groves, fourth overall at the world championships last year. “I just felt awful in my 1,000 but I turned out a pretty good performance. My sprints were my stronger point this weekend.”

Clara Hughes of Winnipeg, who has battled the flu all week, was 18th in the 3,000, the only event she entered this weekend. Tiffany Hughes of Kingston, Ont., and Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., were in the B group women’s 3,000 race and placed 18th and 19th respectively.

Anni Friesinger of Germany captured the 3,000, her 20th career World Cup victory and her second straight this season.

In the men’s pursuit, the U.S., took the gold medal while Canada with Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., Jeff Kitura of Langley, B.C., and Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., were fifth. In the pursuit, each country is paired with three skaters apiece in an eight-lap race. The time of the third finisher for each team is the final time.

“I really like this event,” said Morrison, in his first season on the World Cup circuit. “There’s a lot of strategy involved.”

In the men’s 1,500, the Netherlands completed a second medal sweep this weekend with Mark Tuitert first in 1:47.24, Erben Wennemars second in 1:47.71 and Ids Postma third in 1:47.84.

Morrison was 18th.

In the B group race, Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was second, Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., 10th, Philippe Marois of Charlesbourg, Que., 12th and Jeff Kitura of Langley, B.C., 21st.

The third stop on the World Cup is next weekend in Heerenveen, the Netherlands.