It’s All in the Focus: Groves Dominates the 1500m

Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) stepped up and onto the podium Sunday, in the 1500m event at the long track World Cup in Hamar, Norway; this win is her first this World Cup season.

Silver medallist at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games in the 1500m distance, Groves skated to gold with a time of 1:55.16, bettering the Netherlands’ Ireen Wüst (1:55.95) and Czech skater Martina Sábliková (1:56.34), who earned silver and bronze, respectively. “It’s a great result, I think it’s the best time I’ve ever done outside of North America, but I think the thing I’m most satisfied with is my ability to mentally focus the way I wanted to in that race, and actually execute it. Knowing that I had the control and the ability to do that today, that’s what I’m the most happy with.”

World Cup Champion in the 1500m event in both the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons, Groves is at the head of the World Cup points rankings in the distance this year as well; she is 26 points ahead of her closest competitor, Ireen Wüst.

“Today’s results really demonstrate that if I decide to work on certain things, I can make it happen. Earlier in the week my coach challenged me a little bit to step it up in my mind, and not worry about my comfort zone. She wanted me to focus on the race, to go as fast as possible.”

Justine L’Heureux (Saint-Tite, QC) finished 16th with a time of 2:00.29 – her best result of the season so far. The Québécois skater posted her best World Cup result, and was able to skate in Division A today due to the decision of two of that group’s skaters not to race.

In Division B in the 1500m, Nicole Garrido (Edmonton, AB), came in at 2:01.97, earning herself ninth place.

Makowsky and Giroux Round Out Division A

In the men’s 10 000m event, the Netherlands took first and second place by way of Sven Kramer (12:50.96) and Bob de Jong (12:54.97); Russia’s Ivan Skobrev (13:01.41) took third place on the podium.

Gold medallist in the 1500m on Saturday, Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) finished the 10 000m event in tenth place with a time of 13:34.48. Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC), followed his teammate, with an 11th place finish in a time of 13:34.74. “It’s a shame because if we had been able to skate just four seconds faster, we could have more easily ensured spots for Canada at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games in this distance. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until after the next two 5000m events to know,” commented Giroux, who himself posted a personal best time today.

In Division B, Keith Sulzer (Calgary, AB) and Jordan Belchos (Toronto, ON) came in 17th and 20th with times of 13:49.22 and 13:54.08 respectively.

The next long track speed skating World Cup will take place December 4-6, in Calgary, AB.