Nesbitt takes gold & Morrison a silver medal at World Cup

Nesbitt takes gold and Morrison a silver medal at World Cup in Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Christine Nesbitt Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., remained undefeated in the 1,000 metres on the World Cup this season winning today her fourth gold medal in as many competitions. Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., won his third medal this season taking the silver in the 1,000 metres in one minute and 7.39 seconds at Essent ISU World Cup (sprint) in Salt Lake City. The 500-metre and 1,000-metre races will be repeated on Sunday.

“I was thinking too much. I had a really good 500 (race) and I was excited,” said Nesbitt, who won in a time of one minute and 13.36 seconds. “I really wanted to skate a world record (1:13.11, by Cindy Klassen in 2006). Maybe I was thinking about it too much. I was trying not to. I didn’t’ have a great start. It was a bit slow and I wasn’t expecting that.”

Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg, skated to 20th position (1:16.64) in the 1,000 metres division A, while in division B Kali Christ of Regina was fourth (1:15.93), while Calgary’s Anastasia Bucsis was sixth (1:16.05) and Kaylin Irvine was seventh (1:16.07). Christ and Irvine were skating in their first World Cups.

"I'm always hoping to win the race," said Morrison. "Before every race I always pump myself psychologically and mentally and tell myself, I'm going to win this race today. And I go to the line thinking I'm going to win. I had to focus on staying relaxed and executing the race."

Shani Davis of the USA took gold in the 1,000 metres (1:07.20), just 0.19 seconds ahead of Morrison. Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands was third, and Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg was sixth (1:07.92). In division B, Philippe Riopel of Lachenaie, Que., was ninth (1:09.58), while Lucas Makowsky of Regina, was 13th (1:09.84). Kyle Parrott of Minnedosa, Man., was disqualified from the race.

In the women’s 500 metres, Nesbitt was took fourth spot (37.59) being kept off the podium for a bronze medal by 0.01 seconds by American Heather Richardson. Sang-Hwa Lee of Korea won the gold medal in a time of 37.36, and Nao Kodaira of Japan the silver (37.42). In division B, Bucsis was second in a time 38.06 seconds and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., was seventh (38.66).

Gregg also placed fourth in a time of 34.47 seconds. He was only 0.10 seconds from Keiichiro Nagashima of Japan’s winning time of 34.37. Jan Smeekens of the Netherlands took silver (34.40) and American Tucker Fredricks was won the bronze medal (34.40). Calgary’s Gilmore Junio was 18th in a time of 34.87.

“Good races, so I was happy with them,” said Gregg. “In each I made little mistakes but I still went really fast. And so I’m happy about that. I look forward to not making mistakes tomorrow and going faster.”

In men’s 500-metre division B, Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, Que., won in a time of 34.78 seconds. Muncef Ouardi of Quebec City, was fifth in a time of 34.86, and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, Que., was eighth (35.11). This was Dubreuil’s and Boisvert-Lacroix’s first career World Cups.

The team now has won 10 individual and two team medals this season – 8 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze.

This World Cup serves as an important competition on this season’s circuit as it immediately precedes the World Sprint Championships in Calgary on Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday, Jan. 29. Only six Canadians will compete in Calgary, with Bucsis, Irvine and Nesbitt representing the women and Gregg, Morrison and Ouardi skating for the men. Tickets for the championships are available at www.speedsk8.ca. Only premium tickets, providing access to the most preferred seating area, are being sold online. These tickets guarantee entry to the championship, in the event of a sell-out.

After Salt Lake City, the 2011-12 long track World Cup schedule continues in Hamar, Norway, on Feb. 11 and 12.

With today’s individual medals, the World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance is to $32,000 (18 gold medals, 10 silver and four bronze). Intact Insurance will award $1,000 in cash and prizes to a local speed skating club with each individual medal win. Last season, Intact Insurance awarded more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.