Wotherspoon & Rempel win 500 titles at speed skating nationals

CALGARY – Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., neared his world record time en route to the gold medal in the men’s 500 metres on Friday at the Canadian single distances long track speed skating championships at the Olympic Oval.

Wotherspoon clocked 34.44 seconds in the first race and 34.13 in the second for a combined time of 68.57 seconds. His second clocking was just 0.10 seconds off his world record time set a month ago in World Cup competition.

‘’It was good to come back and near the times I did at the first two World Cups,’’ said Wotherspoon. ‘’My main focus was to have good starts and a better first turn. I feel confident now for the second half of the season.’’

Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., was second and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, BC, third.

In the women’s 500, Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg clocked 38.45 seconds in the first race and 38.41 in the second for a combined time of 76.86 seconds. Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was second at 77.940 and Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg third at 78.18.

‘’I got big lead in that first race and that took the pressure off,’’ said Rempel, the Canadian champ in the event for the third straight year. ‘’I was able to focus a lot more on technique in the second race.It was good to get the victory in this event but still my main focus in the 1,000 and 1,500. Those are the races I have the most potential,’’

Competition continues through to Monday.