Ottawa’s Kristina Groves top Canadian at speed skating World Cup

Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., upset the Olympic champion to win the gold medal in the women’s 1,500 metres Sunday to conclude the first stop on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit.

Rodriguez, third at the Salt Lake Games in 2002, clocked 1:57.57 to finish ahead of Olympic champion Anni Friesinger of Germany second in 1:58.14. Renate Groenewold of the Netherlands was third in 1:59.44.

Kristina Groves of Ottawa was 14th in 2:01.45 while Clara Hughes of Winnipeg was 29th, Tiffany Hughes of Kingston, Ont., 31st and Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., 39th.

"We’re traditionally slow starters," said Groves, fourth overall at the world championships last year. "There’s always an adjustment period when we come over to Europe for the first time of the season. We want to do better but our priority is to peak for the worlds and World Cup final in February and March."

The Canadian women were without their star skater Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg, the reigning World Cup champion in the 1,500. She is out until January with an arm injury.

In the men’s 5,000, Bob de Jong led the Netherlands to a 1-2 finish clocking 6:19.94. Carl Verheijen was second in 6:21.79 and Lasse Saetre of Norway third in 6:24.64.

The Canadians were in the B group race. Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was 19th, Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., 21st and Philippe Marois of Charlesbourg, Que., 22nd.

The second stop on the World Cup circuit is next Saturday and Sunday in Erfurt, Germany.