Nesbitt & Groves climb on podium again in Heerenveen

The World Cup concluded today and the Canadian team added another three medals to its tally. In the women’s 1000m, Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) won her second gold medal in the event, while her teammate Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) won silver with a time of 1:16.76. The third medal of the day for Canada was a silver won by the women’s pursuit team, made up of Nesbitt, Groves and Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB).

Kristina Groves and Christine Nesbitt on the podium; Photo by Arno Hoogveld
Nesbitt and Groves are first and second respectively in the rankings for the 1000m after two races. Nesbitt is still unbeaten this year in the distance. It was an excellent end to the weekend for the two Canadian skaters, who also won bronze and gold yesterday in the 1500m.

“It is a great start to the season. I will have to continue to improve if I want to stay at the top. But I do not want worry about the standings,” said Groves, “I want to focus on my skating performance one race at a time.”

Also in the 1000m, Shannon Rempel finished 8th, which makes her fourth in the cumulative rankings. In Division B, Brittany Schussler finished second behind her Russian rival, Yekaterina Malysheva. Tamara Oudenaarden (St. Albert, AB) finished 10th.

To the delight of those in attendance, the Canadian women’s pursuit team performed very well, ending up on the second step of the podium, right behind the skaters of the host country, the Dutch, who finished only 1.02 seconds ahead.

Christine Nesbitt shooting for the finish line; Photo by Arno Hoogveld
“Thanks to my training I know that I am strong and healthy. I have reached a maturity enabling me to stay focused and keep a constant intensity even after many races like today,” explained Christine Nesbitt after the race.

On the men’s side, skaters Steven Elm (Red Deer, AB), Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) and Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) finished fourth in team pursuit. The Dutch team won the gold, followed by the Americans and the Swedes.

In the 1000m, Denny Morrison was the top Canadian, finishing 7th, less than half a second behind the leader, the American Shani Davis. After an excellent race, Francois-Olivier Roberge (St. Nicolas, QC) finished second in Group B, which allows him to join back the Group A for the next World Cup. Also in the B Division, Philippe Riopel (Lachenaie, QC) and Muncef Ouardi (Montreal, QC) finished 5th and 6th, while Alexandre Garant (Québec, QC), in his first career World Cup race, finished 16th.

After a strong showing in the Netherlands and a total of five medals this weekend, some athletes from Team Canada will be heading to the next World Cup, next weekend, in Moscow. Only the long distance skaters will take part in thevent, where the races will be the 1500m, the women’s 5000m and the men’s 10,000m. The other Canadian skaters will return home to continue their training.