Winnipeg’s Cindy Klassen wins silver medal at speed skating World Cup

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg won the silver medal in the women’s 1,500 metres on Friday to open the fifth stop on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit. The event is being held at the brand new Oval Lingotto which will be the site of the long track events at Winter Olympics this February.

In the women’s 1,500, Olympic champion Anni Friesinger of Germany took the gold medal in one minute and 57.32 seconds. Klassen notched her sixth World Cup medal this season finishing second in 1:57.62 while Renate Groenewold of the Netherlands was third in 1:58.40.

“I’m a little disappointed,” said Klassen, with three World Cup wins and two world records so far this season. “I went out pretty hard but I didn’t expect the ice to be as tough as it was. On the last lap I just didn’t have enough in me and that’s something I’m going to have to work on.”

Kristina Groves of Ottawa, with two medals in the event this season, was fourth in 1:58.66. Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was 11th. In the B Group race, Clara Hughes of Winnipeg was third and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg seventh.

Friesinger continues to lead the World Cup 1,500 standings with 380 points after four of five races with Klassen second at 320 and Groves third at 236.

In the men’s 500, Fengtong Yu of China won the gold in 35.19 with Kang-Seok Lee of South Korea and Joji Kato of Japan tying for second in 35.23. Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., paired with Kato, was fifth in 35.39. It was only the third time in nine World Cup races this season that Wotherspoon didn’t reach the podium.

“The whole race didn’t feel very strong for me,” said Wotherspoon, the most successful male World Cup speed skater with 55 career wins. “I wouldn’t say it was the start or another part of the race that hurt me the most. In warm-up I felt O.K. but in the race I never got into the right rhythm and I couldn’t find the power.”

Mike Ireland of Winnipeg was 15th. In the B group race, Mark Nielsen of Calgary was third, Brock Miron of Calgary ninth and Vincent Labrie of Ste-Foy, Que., 20th.

Lee leads the World Cup 500 standings with 410 points while Wotherspoon is second at 360 after five of 12 races.

In the men’ s 5,000, Arne Dankers of Calgary was sixth in 6:28.05. In the B Group Justin Warsylewicz of Regina was second and Steven Elm of Red Deer sixth.

In the women’s 500, Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was 14th while Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., was sixth in the B Group and Schussler 15th.

Canadian speed skaters were positive about their first experiences at the new oval.

“I really like the oval and the atmosphere here is very Olympics already,” added Klassen. “It’s pretty exciting.”