Regina’s Justin Warsylewicz successfully defends overall crown at Canada Post All Around Championships

Justin Warsylewicz of Regina missed the first half of the season due to a heart irregularity but it didn’t show this week as he successfully defended his overall title on Wednesday at the Canada Post All Around Championships long track speed skating competition.

Warsylewicz, at his first competition this season, placed first overall with 153.864 points ahead of Arne Dankers of Calgary in second at 154.655 and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., third at 154.877. Warsylewicz missed the first half when he was diagnosed with a heart irregularity which required surgeries on November 17 and December 8 in which a catheter was wired into his heart.

“It’s something that I’m not worried about anymore when I race,” said Warsylewicz, 19. “It has cost me a lot of training time but I accumulated a great base this summer. And that showed here this week. I got a personal best in the 1,500 (on Monday) and just built from that.”

Dankers, the 5,000 winner in Canadian record time of Tuesday, notched a second win in the 10,000 ahead of Warsylewicz and Mark Jesney of Saskatoon.

“The main focus for me this week was the 5,000 and to win the 10 km as well is very satisfying,” said Dankers, 24. “It really helped me to be paired with Justin. It gave me a big lift.”

Besides Canadian titles, the speed skaters are also competing for spots for the final two World Cup events this season and the Continental Championships set for January 8-9 which is a world championship qualifier.

The qualifiers for the World Cups are Dankers, Warsylewicz and Morrison in the 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 and Steven Elm of Red Deer, Adam McCabe of Cambridge, Ont., and Philippe Marois of Ste-Foy, Que., in the 1,500. For the Continental Championships qualifiers are: Warsylewicz, Dankers, Morrison, Elm, McCabe and Marois.

In the women’s 5,000, Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg notched her second win of the competition clocking 7:07.82. Michele d’Amours of Ste-Foy, Que., was second in 7:25.16 and Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., third in 7:28.20.

Risling, in her fourth season on the national team, places first overall for her first career national all around title with 168.343 points. Marilou Asselin of Ste-Foy, Que., was second at 169.087 and d’Amours third at 169.277.

“I put in four solid races and I was close to my fastest times all year,” said Risling. “I’m pretty pumped about qualifying for the World Cups and Continental championships.”

For the World Cups, the qualifiers are Klassen, Kristina Groves of Ottawa and Clara Hughes of Winnipeg in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 metres, Shannon Rempel and Brittany Schussler, both of Winnipeg, in the 1,500 and Risling and d’Amours in the 3,000 and 5,000.

The qualifiers for the Continental Championships are Groves, Hughes, Klassen, Risling, d’Amours and Asselin.

The Canada Post Sprint Championships are December 27-29 in Calgary.