Wotherspoon takes silver in men’s 500 at speed skating World Cup

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., thought he had won the gold medal but was handed the silver in the men’s 500-metres on Sunday to conclude the first stop on the World Cup sprint circuit for long track speed skaters.

In the 500, Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan was awarded the gold medal clocking 34.95 seconds. Wotherspoon, skating in the final pair of the day, clocked a close second in 34.97 while Joji Kato of Japan was third in 35.23. On Saturday, Wotherspoon and Shimizu tied for the gold.

Shimizu, who raced just before Wotherspoon, was initially clocked at 34.98. When Wotherspoon finished his race, he thought he had earned a 54th career World Cup win. But a new timing mechanism in place for this competition has been adjusting several clockings all weekend.

"I thought I had won," said Wotherspoon. "It’s a little bit maddening however they are trying to get the most accurate time possible. This was the only race in which it affected the final medal outcome. But I did achieve my goal to get under 35 seconds and I’m looking forward to racing Shimizu head on. That’ll be a test of nerves to see what I can do."

Brock Miron of Calgary was 29th, James Monson of Winnipeg 33rd, Mark Nielsen of Calgary 36th and Jean-René Bélanger of Sherbrooke, Que., 39th.

In the men’s 1,000, Kyou-Hyuk Lee of South Korea was the winner in 1:09.39 to edge Beorn Nijenhuis of the Netherlands in second at 1:09.40. Gerard van Velde of the Netherlands was third in 1:09.55 and Wotherspoon fourth in 1:09.57, which was 0.4 seconds faster than his fourth on Saturday.

"The winning time was a lot faster today and I had a good race overall," said Wotherspoon. "It’s pretty competitive in the 1,000 and a lot of skaters had good races."

Bélanger was 29th and Miron 32nd.

In the women’s 500, there was a tie for first with Sayuri Osuga of Japan and Manli Wang of China each clocking 38.13. Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was sixth in a personal best 38.32.

"It was cool to get a personal best at an oval other than in Calgary which is one of the fastest ices in the world," said Rempel, 20, in her first full season on the World Cup. "That’s the first time that’s happened. It shows that my training is paying off. I’m so happy I can be this fast this early and there’s a lot of room for improvement."

Kim Weger of Regina 22nd, Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., 26th, Sarah Smith of Medicine Hat, Alta., 28th and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer 30th.

In the women’s 1,000, Chiara Simionato of Italy won for the second straight day clocking 1:16.04 while Rempel took seventh spot in 1:17.53.

Myers was 19th, Weger 24th, Tiffany Hughes of Kingston, Ont., 29th, and Wotherspoon 30th.

The second World Cup event is next weekend at Harbin, China.