Silver medal for Clara Hughes at speed skating World Cup

Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., won the silver medal in a women’s 5,000-metre thriller on Saturday to open the third stop on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit.

Hughes, originally from Winnipeg, was in the next to last pair of the day with Renate Groenewold of the Netherlands. The Dutch speed skater, the reigning all around world champion, clocked 7:01.21 which stood for the gold while Hughes, the world champ in the distance, clocked 7:01.24 as both skaters made a furious rush down the final stretch.

"It was hard plus I didn’t feel very good today," said Hughes, who has medalled at all three World Cup events this season. "Not one stride came easy but I was able to stay fully focused and work with what I had. I gave everything so I’m satisfied."

"Renate is a strong short distance skater and she can accelerate a lot better than me. And I knew that on the last straightaway and probably tried too hard to keep her at bay."

Gretha Smit of the Netherlands won the bronze medal in 7:04.09 while Kristina Groves of Ottawa beat double Olympic champion Claudia Pechstein of Germany in the final pair of the day for fourth spot in 7:04.94.

Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., was 12th in the Group 2 race.

Hughes still leads the combined 3,000/5,000 World Cup standings after three events with 260 points, Groenewold is second at 240 and Groves third at 200.

In the men’s 1,500, world champion Chad Hedrick of the U.S., clocked 1:47.06 seconds for gold. Simon Kuipers of the Netherlands was second in 1:47.31 and countryman Beorn Nijenhuis was third in 1:47.38.
Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., was 20th while in the group 2 Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was 12th, Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., 19th and Jamie Ivey of Ottawa 21st.

Competition ends Sunday.