Groves Makes it a Triple; Sulzer Gets Some Glory

Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) and Keith Sulzer (Calgary, AB) won the last two events held at the Canadian Long Track Team Selections today in Calgary.

In the 5000m event, Groves skated to first place with a time of 7:00.72. Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB) and Nicole Garrido (Edmonton, AB) were second and third, with times of 7:06.42 and 7:11.86 respectively.

“I had an okay race on the whole,” explained Groves, who was not entirely satisfied with her performance today. “I am however really happy that the Olympic Trials are over! Overall I’m glad to be qualified, but I think I could have skated better; I didn’t stay focused from start to finish.”

This was a third victory in a row for Groves, who also took the 1000m crown on Tuesday, followed by the title in yesterday’s 1500m.

Clara Hughes (Glen Sutton, QC), already pre-qualified in the distance for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, decided not to race today, while Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB), declared forfeit due to illness.

Third best Canadian in World Cup long distance ranking, behind Groves and Hughes, but ahead of Klassen, Schussler requested a bye in order to get the third spot to race the 5000m at the Olympics.

Keith Sulzer Comes Back Strong

At the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, no Canadian will skate in the 10 000m event; but Keith Sulzer won today’s race in a time of 13:48.82; Jordan Belchos (Toronto, ON) was second in 13:55.08; and Leo Landry (Ottawa, ON) skated to third in 14:05.68.

For Sulzer, today’s victory was especially significant; though he had a few wins at the Canada Cup level, it was his first major victory as a senior skater. “It’s a nice way to finish a difficult week. I wasn’t at my best during the other races, but I really skated well today.”

Several long-distance specialists did not participate in the 10 000m event, among them Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK), Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) and Steven Elm (Red Deer, AB).

Some skaters already had their Olympic berths even before racing at the Olympic Team Selections, including Clara Hughes in the 5000m, Kristina Groves in the 3000m, Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) in both the 1000m and 1500m events, and Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.) in the 1000m and 1500m races.

As a result of their victories in their respective distances this week, the following skaters should also be named to the team that will represent Canada in Vancouver next February: Kristina Groves in the 1000m, 1500m, and 5000m, Clara Hughes in the 3000m, Christine Nesbitt in the 500m, Lucas Makowsky in the 1500m and 5000m, as well as Jeremy Wotherspoon (Red Deer, AB) in the 500m and 1000m events.

Canada’s Olympic Long Track Speed Skating Team will be made up of a maximum of eight men and ten women; the team’s composition will be officially annouced in the coming weeks.