Klassen, Hughes earn more medals for Canada at speed skating worlds

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg nearly withdrew due to a nasty cold Sunday and finished second overall to highlight a gutsy performance by the Canadians at the long track speed skating all around world championships. She added a bronze in the 1,500 while Clara Hughes of Winnipeg took third spot in the 5,000.

Klassen finished the weekend with three medals. She was also second in the 500 Saturday. On Sunday she was feeling absolutely miserable with a bad cough, sore throat and other aches and pains. There was even talk of withdrawing.

"I’m really happy with how it turned out, I wasn’t feeling too good out there," said a stuffed-up Klassen, who missed most of last season due to injury. "I wasn’t even sure I would race today. Both races today were very hard for me. In the 5,000 right after the first lap, I was wondering whether I would finish."

Anni Friesinger of Germany earned her third career all around overall crown sweeping gold in all four races this weekend to tabulate 161.557 points. It’s the sixth time the women’s all around winner took all four races. Klassen, the all around world champion in 2003, took second spot at 163.214 and Claudia Pechstein of Germany was third at 163.418. Kristina Groves of Ottawa was sixth and Hughes 12th.

In the 1,500 Friesinger took the gold in 1:57.35 with Ireen Wust of the Netherlands second in 1:58.17 and Klassen, the world record holder and the World Cup leader in the event this season with two victories, third at 1:58.23. Groves was sixth and Hughes 13th.

In the 5,000, Friesinger completed the sweep in 7:04.61 with Pechstein second in 7:05.08 and Hughes third in 7:05.69, to match last year’s result at this competition. Groves was fifth and Klassen eighth. Hughes and Groves both were stricken with the cold bug last weekend and didn’t race at the World Cup in Italy.

"This was the first race since the World Cups in November that I felt I had some rhythm in my skating," said Hughes about her 5,000. "I feel like I’ve turned a corner and I’m excited for the rest of the season. The whole team is pleased with how we fared under difficult circumstances."

In men’s competition, Americans Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick finished 1-2 overall. Davis finished with 150.777 points and defending champion Hedrick followed at 150.916. Sven Kramer of the Netherlands was third.
The Americans swept the top-four spots in the men’s 1,500 with Davis clocking 1:46.60 for gold to beat Hedrick by 1.10 seconds. KC Boutiette was third in 1:48.79, finishing 0.19 seconds ahead of teammate Derek Parra.

Arne Dankers of Calgary placed 11th in the 1,500 for 17th overall and Philippe Marois of Ste-Foy, Que., was 20th in the 1,500 for 20th overall. Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., didn’t race Sunday due to a cold and receives no placement.