Winnipeg’s Shannon Rempel wins gold & bronze at world junior speed skating championships

Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg began defence of her long track speed skating world junior championships overall crown in grand style Friday with the gold medal in the 500-metres and bronze in the 1,500.

In the 500, Rempel clocked 41.10 seconds for an easy win. Maki Tsuji of Japan was second in 41.47 and Sang-Hwa Lee of South Korea third in 41.55.

Britanny Schussler of Winnipeg, fourth overall the past two world juniors, was 10th and Marilou Asselin of Ste-Foy, Que., 13th.

‘’I had a solid race but it was a bit harder than expected because the ice was sticky,’’ said Rempel, who won Canada’s first world junior title in 27 years last year. ‘’Technically I put a good race together and I was able to focus on what I needed to do.’’

In the 1,500, Eriko Ishino of Japan was the winner in 2:07.84 with Irean Wust of the Netherlands second in 2:08.60 and Rempel third in 2:08.93. It was the Canadian’s first ever international medal in a 1,500.

Schussler was fifth and Asselin 14th.

In the overall standings after two of four distances, Rempel leads at 84.076 points with Ishino second at 84.873 and Wust third at 85.396. Schussler is fifth at 86.150 and Asselin 11th out of 36 entries at 87.450.

‘’I actually felt more pressure last year to win,’’ said Rempel. ‘’But I’m in for a tough battle for first here. Ishino was a top-10 at the senior all around worlds this year and I expect she’ll get a lot of points in the 3,000.’’

Women’s competition ends Saturday with the 1,000 and 3,000. The men get underway with the 500 and 3,000.