Winnipeg’s Shannon Rempel wins gold medal at speed skating World Cup

Shannon Rempel just wanted to deliver a performance she could be happy with after a self-described frustrating start to the season.

The 22-year-old Winnipeg native did that and more on Saturday as she earned her first career win on the long track speed skating World Cup circuit with a victory in the women’s 1,000 metres.

Rempel clocked one minute and 16.88 seconds to upset Chiara Simionato of Italy, the winner in the previous two 1,000 metre World Cup races, second in 1:17.23. Nao Kodaira of Japan was third in 1:17.53.

Despite improving in each race this season, including a fourth place last weekend, Rempel knew she thre was another gear she could shift into.

‘’It feels very good,’’ said Rempel, in her fifth season on the national team. ‘’I wasn’t necessarily surprised. After the first couple of World Cups I knew it was possible but after last week I was starting to get frustrated with how I was skating. I was just happy that I skated the race well today and that time stood up. I’m glad to get the win now instead of later in the season.’’

Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., was 15th

Rempel was in the third to last pair with Annette Gerritsen of the Netherlands, eighth in 1:18.71.

‘’When I was done I was the only skater to go 1:16 and the next one was far back,’’ said Rempel, a member of Canada’s Olympic silver medal winning pursuit team last winter. ‘’I was watching the last pair (which included Simionato) and the splits were similar to mine. It was just a question whether she’d (Simionato) fade as fast as I faded. And she did.’’

In the World Cup 1,000-metre standings, Simionato still leads with 402 points after six of 10 races. Olympic champion Marianne Timmer of the Netherlands, fourth on Saturday, follows at 344 while Rempel climbs to third at 333. Rempel has also posted two fifths, a fourth, a sixth and a 10th place this season.

In training this season, Rempel decided to put more focus in the longer distance events such as the 1,500 to help her improve her 1,000 metre races.

‘’It meant for a lot of training and I wasn’t sure how I would fare at these first World Cups,’’ she said. ‘’But I did better than I hoped at the first ones in Europe and my expectations changed. I knew I had the ability to do really well going into the Asian World Cups.’’

Rempel was also seventh in the 500 on Saturday, her best result at the distance this season. Kim Weger of Regina was 16th and Myers 20th.

Other Canadian results: in the men’s 500, Mike Ireland of Winnipeg was ninth while Brock Miron of Calgary won the B Group race with François-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicholas, Que., seventh and Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., 12th.

In the men’s 1,000, Miron was ninth, Roberge 13th and Labrie 18th.

Competition ends Sunday with another set of 500 and 1,000 metre races for the men and women.