Klassen takes overall lead with two silvers to lead four-medal Canadian attack at world speed skating championships

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg is first overall in the women’s standings after two silver medal performances in Saturday’s races at the long track speed skating world championships while Clara Hughes of Winnipeg and Kevin Marshall of Coquitlam, B.C., added one bronze apiece.

Klassen, second overall last year, placed second in both the 500 and 3,000 metre races at the outdoor oval and totals 83.706 points for first overall. There are two races still to be contested on Sunday including the 1,500 her best event this season.

``It was a normal performance for Cindy,`` said Klassen’s coach Xiuli Wang. `` I was happy with both her races. But it’s tough to race outdoors when you’re not use to it. You have to re-learn how to skate under different conditions and also have a different race strategy.``

Four-time Olympic champion Claudia Pechstein of Germany, regarded as Klassen’s toughest opponent, won the 3,000 and is second overall at 84.531. Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., won the 500 and is third overall at 84.908.

Kristina Groves of Ottawa enjoyed an excellent day as well and is sixth overall after a fifth place finish in the 3,000 and 16th spot in the 500.

Hughes was also 23rd in the 500 which knocks her down to 13th overall one spot behind of Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., in 12th. Risling was 12th in the 500 and 14th in the 3,000.

``I’m really not focusing on the overall but rather on winning medals in the 3,000 and 5,000,`` said Hughes, who now resides in Glen Sutton, Que. ``And certainly I was pleased with my 3,000. It’s an indicator how things will go tomorrow (Sunday).``

In men’s competition, Ids Postma, the 500 winner, leads a Dutch trio at the top of the overall standings at 78.277. Rintje Ritsma is second at 78.477 and Gianne Romme third at 78.497.

Marshall stands 11th after a third place in the 500 and 19th in the 5,000. Dustin Molicki of Calgary 15th in the 500 and 13th in the 5,000 is 14th overall while Mark Knoll of Regina and Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., are 22nd and 23rd overall respectively.

Competition ends Sunday.