Nesbitt wins gold & bronze at World Cup Final

Nesbitt wins gold and bronze at World Cup Final in Berlin
Nesbitt also takes 1,500-metre season title

BERLIN, Germany
– Canadian Christine Nesbitt won gold and bronze medals and a season title today at the ISU World Cup Final in Berlin. Canada also had three other top 10 finishes on the second day of competition.

In her first race of the day, the London, Ont., native skated the 500 metres in 38.17 seconds to claim the bronze medal. Nesbitt was just over half a second (0.54) behind gold medallist Jing Yu of China (37.63).

“It was a really long day, because of racing both races. I was really happy with the 500 I raced,” said Nesbitt. “I had a really good pair (with Hong Zhang of China). I got to chase her down the back straightaway (to the finish line). So it was really fun.

Two and half hours later, the 26-year-old would win her third gold medal of the World Cup season in the 1,500 metres. She won in a time of one minute and 56.77 seconds, besting Marrit Leenstra of the Netherlands by 0.16 seconds in the final pair. Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic won the bronze medal (1:57.36). The victory also gave Nesbitt the season distance title with 510 points, 60 better than Ireen Wust of the Netherlands and 109 more than Leenstra.

“It (the 1,500 race) was a really hard race, so it wasn't super fun,” added Nesbitt. “When I won the 1,500, they gave me on the podium a chocolate-shaped trophy. So I can't wait to eat that on the bus on Monday.”

With today’s results, Nesbitt, coached by Xiuli Wang and Mark Wild, also moves into first place for the newly created Grand World Cup award, which comes with a $20,000 U.S. prize from Essent. She has 101.25 points going into the final day of competition, followed by Sablikova with 86.50 and Wust at 85.00. Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands leads the men with 72.5 points. Canada’s Morrison is seventh with 43.0 points.

Winnipeg’s Brittany Schussler had her best finish of the season in the 1,500 metres, taking fourth place in a time of 1:57.81, only 0.45 seconds from a bronze medal. Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg was ninth (1:59.13) and Regina’s Kali Christ was 11th (1:59.50). Schussler finished 10th in the season overall ranking with 156 points.

Also skating in the women’s 500 metres, Calgary’s Anastasia Bucsis was 16th in a time of 38.88 seconds and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., was 22nd (39.32). In the World Cup season ranking for the 500 meters, Nesbitt finished in 10th position with 412 points. Yu won the title with 960 points.

In the men’s 500 metres, Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg was fifth in a time of 35.14 seconds. Gregg, winner of Friday’s 500 metres, was 0.13 seconds behind gold medallist Michel Mulder of the Netherlands and only 0.06 from a podium finish. In the season rankings for this distance, Gregg was seventh with 511 points. Tae-Bum Mo of South Korea was the champion with 702 points.

Gilmore Junio of Calgary finished in 17th (35.42) position in the 500 metres, followed by Alex Boisvert-Lacroix, Sherbrooke, Que., in 22nd place (35.67) and Will Dutton, Humbolt, Sask., in 23rd spot (35.69).

Toronto’s Jordan Belchos skated in the third pair of the 5,000-metre race and finished in 18th place with a time of 6:31.11.

The World Cup season wraps-up Sunday with the men’s and women’s 1,000 metres, mass start and team pursuit.

Looking to the final day on Sunday, Nesbitt noted she was looking forward to the 1,000 metres. “I always like the 1,000 and I'm inner (starting in the inside lane), so I like it even more. It's my first one (1,000 metre race) since the World Sprints (in Calgary on Jan. 29).”

Nesbitt will team-up with Klassen and Schussler for Sunday’s team pursuit. “And then team pursuit is going to be fun. I haven't raced one since the fall (gold medal on Dec. 4 in Heerenveen),” noted Nesbitt. “We're racing the Russians (in our pair) and they're pretty good.”

The long track season ends in Heerenveen, Netherlands, with the World Single Distance Championships, from March 22-25.

The World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance is up to $49,000 (25 gold medals, 16 silver and eight 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.