Jeremy Wotherspoon completes World Cup season in golden style

Long track speed skater Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., put a golden finishing touch on a superb World Cup season Sunday with a victory in the men’s 500-metres which concluded the five stop circuit for the 2004-2005 season.

Mark Nielsen of Calgary added a silver medal in the men’s 100-metre dash to finish third overall at the distance.

Wotherspoon was at the top of his game clocking 34.96 seconds, a rare sub 35 second time at the indoor oval and just 0.13 off the track record. Joji Kato of Japan was second in 35.02 and Dmitry Lobkov of Russia third in 35.11. Nielsen was 17th.

"A lot of the things I had been doing wrong in recent races went very well today," said Wotherspoon. "Right from the warm-up I knew I was headed for a strong performance. It’s great for the confidence that I can comeback like that after some so-so races recently."

Wotherspoon clinched the 500 World Cup title for a fourth straight year on Friday and finishes the season with four wins in 10 races. He also pocketed $14,000 (U.S.) for the crown.

In the men’s 100, Fengtong Yu of China won the gold in 9.52 to win the season title followed by Nielsen in 9.71 and Yuya Oikawa of Japan third in 10.05.

"I didn’t have my best race," said Nielsen. "The ice was deteriorating at the start line and began to get chippy. That never helps when a key to the race is to stay very relaxed and not overdue it."

Sarah Smith of Medicine Hat, Alta., was seventh in the women’s 100.

Mark Tuitert led the Netherlands to the top-four placings in the men’s 1,500 while Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was 19th.

On Saturday, Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg captured the women’s 1,500 World Cup title for the second time in three years with a silver medal performance.

In the men’s B group races, Brock Miron of Calgary was eighth in the 500 with James Monson of Winnipeg 13th and Jean-René Bélanger of Sherbrooke, Que., 14th. In the 1,500, Arne Dankers of Calgary was sixth, Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., ninth, Philippe Marois of Ste-Foy, Que., 10th and Adam McCabe of Cambridge, Ont., 11th.

In the women’s B group races, Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., was fourth in the 500, Smith was seventh, Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, ninth and Kim Weger of Regina 12th.

The season is not over yet for the long track speed skaters. The Olympic-style world single distance championships are March 3-6 at Inzell, Germany. The Canadians will stay in Europe through the next two weeks.