Jeremy Wotherspoon wins 500-metre clinches World Cup title

HEERENVEEN, the Netherlands – Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., won the gold medal in the men’s 500-metres and clinched the season crown at the distance on Friday before a sellout crowd of 10,000 at the long track speed skating World Cup final.

Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., added a silver in the 1,500.

Wotherspoon clocked 34.82 seconds only 0.01 seconds off his track record set earlier this season. Joji Kato of Japan was second at 34.84 and Kyou-Hyuk Lee of South Korea third at 34.99.

‘’My race had a lot of strong points,’’ said Wotherspoon the career leader for World Cup victories in men’s competition at 66. ‘’It’s a great way to start the weekend.’’

Mike Ireland of Winnipeg was seventh, Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., 12th and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., 17th.

Jeremy Wotherspoon after his win, Photo: Arno Hoogveld
In the 500 World Cup standings after 13 of 14 races, Wotherspoon can’t be caught with 930 points with Kang-Seok Lee of South Korea second at 757. Wotherspoon has won eight of the nine 500 races he’s entered this season.

‘’Overall it was definitely a good season for me in the 500,’’ said Wotherspoon, who will pocket $14,000 U.S., as the World Cup champion. He has won an astounding 13 World Cup season titles in his career. ‘’I didn’t know exactly how things would go after taking last season off. It feels good to come back and have things go this well. The key for me this season was very specific training which helped me to accelerate quickly and be comfortable at top speed.’’

In the men’s 1,500, Shani Davis of the U.S., won the gold and World Cup distance title clocking 1:45.25. Morrison was second in 1:45.51 and Enrico Fabris of Italy third in 1:45.53. Morrison faced a tough pair in crowd favourite and all around world champion Sven Kramer of the Netherlands. Kramer was fourth in 1:45.87.

‘’It was an incredible race for Denny,’’ said Morrison’s coach Marcel Lacroix. ‘’He wasn’t bothered by the crowd and followed his race plan to a tee. It was really solid. Denny’s been very consistent this season and that’s something he’s been striving for.’’

Arne Dankers of Calgary was 11th and François-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., 21st.

In the women’s 500, Jenny Wolf of Germany already had the World Cup season title locked up but still won for the 11th time in 13 races. Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was 15th, Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., 16th and Tamara Oudenaarden of Edmonton 18th.

In the women’s 3,000, Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic was the victor in 4:03.75 and is the World Cup champion at the distance. Kristina Groves of Ottawa was seventh.

Competition continues through to Sunday.