Winnipeg speed skaters Cindy Klassen & James Monson crowned national sprint champions

James Monson and Cindy Klassen, both of Winnipeg, captured the men’s and women’s overall titles on Wednesday to conclude the Canada Post Sprint Championships long track speed skating competition.

Klassen swept all four races this week capped by her victory in Wednesday’s 1,000-metre finale. She clocked 1:15.11 finishing well ahead of Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., second in 1:18.65 and Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., third in 1:18.94.

In the overall standings, Klassen was first, Myers second and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., third.

The competition also finalized Canadian teams for World Cups later this winter- including the January 14-15 stop in Calgary- and the world sprint championships January 22-23 at Salt Lake City.

Klassen, Myers and Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg qualified in both the 500 and 1,000 metres for the World Cups, Kim Weger of Regina and Wotherspoon qualified in the 500 and Nesbitt and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg in the 1,000.

The world sprint team members are Klassen, Rempel and Myers. Klassen will race at both the all around worlds and sprint worlds this season. In 2003 she also raced both events winning the all around world crown and placing second at the world sprints.

On the men’s side, Monson won the first two 500 races on Monday and held on to first place overall finishing ahead of Brock Miron of Calgary in second and Jean-René Bélanger of Sherbrooke, Que., in third.

Steven Elm of Red Deer won Wednesday’s 1,000 in 1:10.63 with Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., second in 1:10.83 and Miron third in 1:11.00.

"After the first two 500 races I built a substantial lead and I knew I just needed to put down a couple of solid 1,000 metres to get the title," said Monson, fifth in Wednesday’s race. "The 1,000 is not my best event right now but I was happy that I got the job done under some pressure. This was my best week of skating this season."

World Cup qualifiers are Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, and Bélanger in both the 500 and 1,000; Monson, Miron, and Mark Nielsen of Calgary in the 500 and Elm, Jason Parker of Yorkton, Sask., and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, in the 1,000.

The world sprint team members are Wotherspoon, Monson, Miron and Bélanger. Wotherspoon is a four-time world sprint champion and placed second last season.