Nesbitt wins gold & season title in 1,000 metres

Nesbitt wins gold and season title in 1,000 metres at World Cup Final in Berlin
Women’s pursuit team also wins gold and season title


BERLIN, Germany – Canadian Christine Nesbitt wrapped-up the ISU World Cup Final in Berlin with victories in the 1,000 metres and the women’s team pursuit, and also claimed the season titles for the 1,000 metres and new Grand World Cup award. Canada also had another five top 10 finishes – two in the men’s 1,000 metres and men’s mass start, and one in the women’s mass start.

Nesbit, 26, went undefeated in each of her five 1,000-metre World Cup races this season. Coached by Xiuli Wang and Mark Wild, the London, Ont., native won today’s race with a time of one minute and 15.04 seconds. She beat American Heather Richardson by 0.73 seconds (1:15.77) and Hong Zhang of China by 0.79 seconds (1:15.83). Regina’s Kali Christ was 15th (1:17.52). Nesbitt broke the six-year-old track record at Berlin's Sportforum, established by German skater Anni Friesinger (1:15.17) on Oct. 30, 2005.

"It was nice to beat Anni's track record (in the 1,000 metres), because she's been so dominant for so many years," said Nesbitt. "Even though she's been retired for two seasons she still has left a legacy behind. It's nice that I know that I've gone faster than she's ever gone here, which is pretty special for me.

The win gave Nesbitt another 15 points towards the Grand World Cup award, which she claimed with 116.25 points. Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic was second with 86.50 points. The ISU introduced this award this season, which comes with a $20,000 U.S. prize from Essent. For each competition in the individual distances, the top five ranked skaters earned ‘Grand World Cup points’.

Nesbitt was also pleased on winning the first women's Grand World Cup award. "It was pretty exciting," said Nesbitt. "We did award ceremonies for the last hour and a half. But I know I have to go back and relax and not spend so much energy, because worlds are just in two weeks."

In the women’s team pursuit, Nesbitt joined Winnipeggers Cindy Klassen and Brittany Schussler to win their third gold medal of the season in a time of 3:01.03. Korea won the silver medal and Russia the bronze. In the only team pursuit that the Canadian threesome didn’t race, Canada finished in seventh spot in Norway on Feb. 12. Klassen was joined by Kali Christ and Brianne Tutt for that World Cup. Canada earned the season title with 390 points. Russia was second with 355 points.

"I think we had a pretty good race," noted Nesbitt on the team pursuit win. "I was pretty tired because I had just raced 30 minutes before. Cindy was pretty worried, but she ended up being the stronger one of the three of us. We've been flexible with our tactics. We know how to skate well together."

In the men’s 1,000 metres, only 0.37 seconds separated the winner from sixth place. American Shani Davis took the gold medal in a time of 1:09.24. Denny Morrison, of Fort St. John, B.C., was fifth (1:09.60) and Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg took sixth place (1:09.61). Both Morrison and Gregg are coached by Mike Crowe and Bart Schouten.

In the men’s 20-lap mass start, Toronto’s Jordan Belchos finished in eighth position with a time of 10 minutes and 48.33 seconds and Philippe Riopel, of Lachenaie, Que., was ninth with a time of 11:05.74. Jorrit Bergsma of the Netherlands won the gold medal in a time of 10:39.27. Belchos and Riopel are coached by Wang and Wild.

Edmonton’s Nicole Garrido skated in the women’s mass start, which is raced over 15 laps. The 23-year-old was ninth, crossing the finish line in 8:54.41. Germany’s Claudia Pechstein was first in a time of 8:52.06.

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 $50,000 (26 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.