Jeremy Wotherspoon wins 500-metre gold at world speed skating championships, Klassen & Ireland also win medals for Canada

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., successfully defended his title in the men’s 500-metre in comeback style on Friday at the world single distance world championships in long track speed skating.

Wotherspoon clocked a two-race total time of 70.790 seconds posting the fastest time of the day in the second race at 35.25 seconds. Dmitry Lobkov of Russia, paired with Wotherspoon in both races, was second at 71.140 and Mike Ireland of Winnipeg finished third at 71.200.

“I’ve had a great season overall in the 500,” said Wotherspoon, the 500 World Cup champion this season. “Going into this weekend I knew I had the ability to put a couple of good races together and that’s what happened. I gained a lot of speed in the second one even though I didn’t have the best start. The most important thing in the 500 is to stay relaxed. “

Ireland led after the first race clocking 35.40. In the second race, he encountered problems with his skate blade at the start but still managed to get into the medals.

“It’s pretty maddening but I’m still happy I got on the podium,” said Ireland. “I had a really good first race and had built a decent lead. But in the second race because the blade was off kilter I had about eight little bobbles. The blade is totally finished.”

James Monson of Calgary was 18th.

In the women’s 1,500, Anni Friesinger of Germany was the winner in 2:00.48 finishing ahead of Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg second in 2:01.21. Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., was third in 2:01.54.

“I was one of the early pairs and I didn’t think my time would hold up,” said Klassen, who has made a fantastic comeback after suffering a serious arm injury last fall. She returned to action last month and has quickly moved back to the top.’’

“But the ice here just wasn’t that great today.”

Kristina Groves of Ottawa was 13th and Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., 22nd.

In the 5,000, Arne Dankers of Calgary was 24th.

Competition continues Saturday.