Kristina Groves captures first long distance medal of the season at speed skating World Cup #8

Canada’s Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) finished third in the 5000m at World Cup #8 in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, capturing her first medal in a long distance event this season.

“When Kristina takes a few things to focus on, then she has a better race and I think she did that today,” said National Team Coach Xiuli Wang, Groves’ coach for the past seven years.

Groves, 32, skated the 5000m in 7:05.08, with first and second place going to Martina Sablikova, from the Czech Republic, in 6:59.08, and Stephanie Beckert, from Germany, in 7:01.33.

“She had a really good race today, it was really flat and she challenged her pair (Beckert),” added Marcel Lacroix, Canadian National Team Coach who is with the team in Europe. “She executed really well and is showing that her form is where she wants to be at this time of the year.”

Even though this is Groves’ first long distance medal of the season, she is second overall in the world cup standings in the 5000m. Her world cup medal tally is now at eight for 2008-09, including three gold, two silver and now three bronze medals.

Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) also raced in the 5000m and placed eighth in 7:10.64, setting a personal best on European ice. In the ladies 5000m B race Nicole Garrido (Edmonton, AB) finished seventh in 7:21.538.

At this long distance world cup event, only one distance is raced each day. In men’s competition it was the 1500m and Canada’s top spot went to Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) who finished 12th in 1:48.01.

“At the start he stripped an edge. He was very ready for this race, but unfortunately he didn’t perform like he wanted to. It was one of those races where he did what he could,” added Lacroix, Makowsky’s coach.

Steven Elm (Red Deer, AB) was not far behind in 15th place in 1:48.447 and François-Olivier Roberge (St. Nicolas, QC) finished in 1:49.33 in 19th place.

In the 1500m B races, Jay Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) finished second in 1:49.56 and Mathieu Giroux (Montreal, QC), who is racing in only his second long track world cup, was ninth with a time of 1:50.60. Giroux, 22, was part of Canada’s National Team in short track speed skating and competed on the Short Track World Cup circuit.

Tomorrow the women will compete in the 1500m and the men will race in the 10, 000m. Canadians Groves, Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) and Schussler will race in the 1500m A and Garrido will compete in the B division. In men’s racing Morrison, Elm, Jordan Belchos (Markham, ON) and Giroux will compete in the 10,000m B races with Makowsky again racing in the A division.

Complete race results are available on the ISU web site (http://www.isu.org/).