Three medals for Canada to open world sprint championships

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., grabbed a solid overall lead with gold and silver while Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg snared a bronze Saturday to open the long track speed skating world sprint championships.

In the men’s 500, Wotherspoon, unbeaten this season over the distance after six World Cup races, equaled his personal best time of 34.41, the second fastest ever on record. Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan was second at 34.52 and Gerard van Velde of the Netherlands was third at 34.68.

Last weekend at the World Cup in Salt Lake City, Wotherspoon clocked the same time but was on world record pace when he had a major glitch near the end.

``Last week’s race was probably better without the slip but today’s was solid,`` said Wotherspoon who clocked a personal best 9.55 seconds over the first 100 metres. ``The ice was a bit soft which may have hurt my chances to go even faster. I had a slower lap than usual.``

Mike Ireland of Winnipeg, who’s been bothered by a groin injury all season posted his best performance this season finishing sixth in 35.13. Ireland was the world sprint champion two years ago.

In the 1,000, Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands was the winner in 1:08.40 with Wotherspoon second in 1:08.41. Joey Cheek of the U.S., was third in 1:08.57. Ireland was 11th.

After two of four races, Wotherspoon is in good position to defend his world sprint crown and earn a fourth title in five years with 68.615 points. Van Velde is second at 69.005 and Shimizu third at 69.160. Ireland is seventh.

``It was very important to get a good lead on the first day,`` said Wotherspoon. ``In the 1,000 I was so close to the winning time that I didn’t lose any ground.``

In women’s competition, Monique Garbrecht-Enfeldt of Germany also has a strong lead after sweeping gold in both the 500 and 1,000.

In the 1,000, the German star won in 1:14.89 with American Jennifer Rodriguez second in 1:15.05 and Klassen third in 1:15.16. Klassen doesn’t consider herself a sprinter and is eyeing gold at the world all around championships next month.

``I was bit surprised to get the medal,`` said Klassen, a bronze medallist in the 3,000 at the Olympics. ``I don’t really have strong starts but being paired with Rodriguez was a bonus. I tried to stay with her as much as I could.``

Klassen was also 10th in the 500 to stand sixth overall. Double Olympic champion Catriona Le May Doan of Saskatoon was fifth in both races and is fifth overall.

Competition ends Sunday.



Saturday’s results at the long track speed skating world sprint championships in Calgary: (all distances in metresJ

MEN

500: 1. Jeremy Wotherspoon, Red Deer, Alta., 34.41; 2. Hiroyasu Shimizu, Japan, 34.52; 3. Gerard Van Velde, Netherlands, 34.68; 4. Erben Wennemars, Netherlands, 35.00; 5. Joey Cheek, U.S., 35.10; 6. Mike Ireland, Winnipeg, 35.13; 7. Kyu-Hyuk Lee, South Korea and Kip Carpenter, U.S., 35.22; 9. Masaaki Kobayashi, Japan, 35.27; 10. Beorn Nijenhuis, Netherlands, 35.29.

Other Canadians: 16. James Monson 35.73; 27. Brock Miron, Calgary, 36.20.

1,000: 1. Wennemars, 1:08.40; 2. Wotherspoon, 1:08.41; 3. Cheek, 1:08.57; 4. van Velde, 1:08.65; 5. Lee, 1:08.81; 6. Bos, 1:09.00; 7. Janne Hanninen, Finland, 1:09.03; 8. Carpenter, 1:09.05; 9. Nijenhuis, and Chris Callis, U.S., 1:09.21.

Other Canadians: 11. Ireland, 1:09.22; 21. Miron, 1:11.15; 23. Monson, 1:11.42.

Overall (after two of four races): 1. Wotherspoon, 68.615; 2. van Velde, 69.005; 3. Shimizu, 69.160; 4. Wennemars, 69.200; 5. Cheek, 69.385; 6. Lee, 69.625; 7. Ireland, 69.740; 8. Carpenter, 69.745; 9. Bos, 69.800; 10. Nijenhuis, 69.895.

Other Canadians: 21. Monson, 71.440; 23. Miron 71.775.


WOMEN

500: 1. Monique Garbrecht-Enfeldt, Germany, 37.76; 2. Manli Wang, China, 37.82; 3. Shihomi Shinya, Japan, 38.09; 4. Sayuri Osuga, Japan, 38.14; 5. Catriona Le May Doan, Saskatoon, 38.16; 6. Andrea Nuyt, Netherlands, 38.33; 7. Svetlana Zhurova, Russia, 38.44; 8. Anzhelika Kotyuga, Belarus, 38.47; 9. Jennifer Rodriguez, U.S., 38.52; 10. Cindy Klassen, Winnipeg, 38.58.

Other Canadian: 16. Shannon Rempel, Winnipeg, 38.90.

1,000: 1. Garbrecht-Enfeldt, 1:14,89; 2. Rodriguez, 1:15.05; 3. Klassen, 1:15.16; 4. Marianne Timmer, Netherlands, 1:15.42; 5. Shinya, 1:15.57; 6. Kotyuga, 1:15.83; 7. Le May Doan, 1:15.92; 8. Wang, 1:16.18; 9. Chris Witty, U.S., 1:16.33; 10. Becky Sundstrom, U.S., 1:16.34.

Other Canadian: 14. Rempel, 1:17.12.

Overall (after two of four races): 1. Garbrecht-Enfeldt, 75.205 points; 2. Shinya, 75.875; 3. Wang, 75.910; 4. Rodriguez, 76.045; 5. Le May Doan, 76.120; 6. Klassen, 76.160; 7. Kotyuga, 76.385; 8. Osuga, 76.500; 9. Nuyt, 76.600; 10. Timmer, 76.770.

Other Canadian: 15. Rempel, 77.460.