Nesbitt’s Perfect Weekend

Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) made it a perfect weekend, winning the second round of the women’s 1000m event on Day Two of the Changchun Long Track World Cup in China. Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) continues to post strong performances, anchoring the Canadian men’s team.

The podium was identical to Saturday’s in the women’s 1000m event; Nesbitt crossed the line for the gold in 1:16.55 – slower than yesterdays’ track record-setting skate, but certainly enough to better her closest competition, American Heather Richardson, who took silver in 1:17.59; Japan’s Nao Kodaira skated to bronze in 1:17.98

At her last World Cup race before the Christmas break, Nesbitt remains positive “I think at this point I’m kind of immune to time changes; I’ve been on the road for four and half weeks now! I’ve been looking forward to this weekend though, it’s nice to not have to worry about racing the 1500m or 3000m, plus I’ve never been to China!” she explained. While winning gold medals is her forte, she did discover one skill she’s been missing, “We all went shopping on Thursday, and I don’t know how to bargain at all,” laughed Nesbitt. Nonetheless, the trip was a success, with two gold medals and new cultural perspectives, “Xiuli (Wang; Team Canada Coach) arranged for us to go to dinner with one of the Chinese skaters and coaches, so that was really neat. The cultural differences were pretty evident, but we were all smiling and laughing trying to find a way to understand each other, so it was fun.”

The Canadian women kept it interesting, mixing up their 1000m results on Day Two; this round, it was Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) who scored herself fourth place in 1:18.06; followed by teammates Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB) in eighth place in 1:18.60, and Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) was right behind Klassen, earning ninth in 1:18.65. Anastasia Bucsis (Calgary, AB) skated with Group A today as there was no Group B racing; and she finished 22nd in a time of 1:20.74.

In the women’s 500m event, Shannon Rempel again skated to 11th place with her time of 39.32. Christine Nesbitt crossed the line in 39.40 for 13th place. Korea’s Sang-Hwa Lee skated to gold in 38.22, China’s Jing Yu earned silver in 38.27, and Germany’s Jenny Wolf skated to bronze in 38.44

In the Group B races for the same distance, Anastasia Bucsis had a great race, skating to third place in 39.78.

Gregg Anchors the Men’s Team

Jamie Gregg proved that yesterday’s strong showing in the Group B men’s 1000m event wasn’t a fluke, he was the highest-placing Canadian in the race Sunday, skating to 11th place in 1:11.41. Now competing in Group A, Gregg was only a few one-hundredths of a second slower than yesterday – a great deal of progress for his first World Cup of the season! “I’ve been feeling good all week, so this weekend’s results were a positive stepping stone. I’ve got some catching up to do, since most of these guys have been racing for a while, but generally speaking I get better through the season,” promised Gregg, who will also take to the ice next weekend in Obihiro, Japan.

In the same distance, Philippe Riopel (Lachenaie, QC) again skated well, coming in at 1:11.55 for 14th place. Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, BC), who is currently in a rebuilding phase, crossed the line in 1:11.85, good for 16th in today’s results.

The men’s podium for the 1000m event was similar to yesterday: the Netherlands’ Stefan Groothuis took gold in 1:09.39, the silver medal went to Dutchman Simon Kuipers with his time of 1:10.11, and Korea’s Kyou-Hyuk Lee skated to bronze in 1:10.13.

In Group B, Richard MacLennan (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) again had a great skate, earning another third place in a time of 1:12.56. MacLennan’s solid results this weekend mean the chances are good that he will be able to access Group A competitions next weekend at the Obihiro World Cup in Japan.

In the men’s 500m event, Gregg posted the best Canadian result, skating to 18th place in 35.84; Vincent Labrie (Saint-Romuald, QC) wasn’t far behind with a time of 36.03 for 20th place, and William Dutton (Humboldt, SK) finished the weekend with 21st place in a time of 36.17 – faster than his time in the same distance yesterday. The men’s podium comprised American Tucker Fredricks for gold in 35.26, the Netherlands’ Jan Smeekens grabbing silver in 35.27, and Korea’s Kyok-Hyuk Lee skating to bronze in a time of 35.32.

In Group B, Gilmore Junio (Calgary, AB) skated to a solid fifth place result, with an identical time of 36.37 to China’s Yaolin Zhang. Muncef Ouardi (Charlesbourg, QC) earned tenth in 36.63.

Next weekend, Team Canada heads to Obihiro, Japan, for Long Track World Cup number five.