Three Canadians on the Podium at Moscow World Cup

Team Canada had a strong showing today, on Day 1 of the Moscow Long Track World Cup. Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) and Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) each captured a silver medal, in the 500m and 1500m respectively, and Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) added a bronze in the women’s 3000m race.

Gregg captured his first medal of the 2010-11 World Cup season, a silver, when he crossed the 500m finish line in 35.23, second only to Pekka Koskela of Finland (35.15). The bronze medal went to Jacques de Koning of the Netherlands (35.23). This is Gregg’s second career World Cup medal, after he skated to bronze in the Calgary World Cup in the Fall of 2009. After skipping the first few World Cups of the season in order to focus on his studies, Gregg returned to the circuit last December.

“This was definitely not an ideal race,” explained the medalist afterwards. “I made a really bad technical error when entering the first corner which made me lose some precious time, but I’m happy that I was able to keep my focus and do the best that I can. I ended up with a pretty fast time, and I’m hopeful that I can do better tomorrow.”

Also in the men’s 500m, Vincent Labrie (Lévis, QC) finished 15th with a time of 35.67, and Muncef Ouardi (Québec, QC) 18th in 35.73. In Group B racing, Tyler Derraugh (Winnipeg, MB), who was skating in his first career World Cup, finished 3rd thanks to his time of 35.76, and Matt McLean, also of Winnipeg, was 6th in 36.15.

Denny Morrison skated a strong 1500m race, finishing in 1:46.25 to capture the silver medal. Gold went to Ivan Skobrev of Russia (1:45.49) and Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands managed to win the bronze medal in 1:46.59. This is a second individual podium finish this season for Morrison, who won a bronze medal in the 1000m at the last World Cup this Fall.

“My race went pretty good, but there is still a lot of room for improvement,” thought Morrison afterwards during a teleconference. “It’s nice to be on the podium though. I know my fitness still isn’t where it should be, and my last lap wasn’t as strong as it could have been, but after deciding to skip most of the summer training, I felt this season would be pretty much a write off, so being on the podium is very encouraging!”

Other Canadians in the 1500m also skated solid races, Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) finishing 10th in 1:48.06, Philippe Riopel (Lachenaie, QC) 13th with a time of 1:48.55 and Justin Warsylewicz (Regina, SK) took the 20th place (1:51.96).

Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) was the top Canadian in the women’s 3000m, and her time of 4:10.45 was good enough for the bronze medal, her second of the season. Martina Sablikova of Czech Republic won the gold in 4:04.03 and Ireen Wust of the Netherlands took silver (4:05.41). Canadian skater Christine Nesbitt (London, ON), who was crowned World Sprint Champion last weekend, finished 4th in 4:10.55, just 0.10 off the podium. In Group B, Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) was the top Canadian in 6th place (4:19.03) and Kirsti Lay (Medicine Hat, AB) was 8th in 4:21.47.

“I had a good race, but was not exstatic about it afterwards,” said Schussler. “I had to work really hard from the start, I fought my way through the whole thing, but this is my best finish ever in the 3000m. Anytime I get to be on the podium, I’ll definitely take it!”

The last event of the day was the women’s 500m race, and Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) was the top Canadian, completing the race in 39.13, good for 7th place. Sarah Gregg (Edmonton, AB), who was experiencing her first career World Cup, ended up in 24th position with her time of 40.28, and Tamara Oudenaarden (St. Albert, AB) was 27th. The race was won by German Jenny Wolf (37.90).

Tomorrow, skaters will be back on the ice for another round of the 500m, as well as the women’s 1500m and men’s 5000m races.