Canada takes silver in women’s team pursuit

Canada takes silver in women’s team pursuit at World Single Distances Championships
Top 10 finishes for Nesbitt and Gregg in 500 metres

AUDIO FILES (MP3): Bucsis, Dubreuil (English), Dubreuil (French), Gregg, Team pursuit (Klassen, Nesbitt, Schussler, Kali Christ), Team pursuit – French (Giroux, Makowsky), Ouardi (English), Ouardi (French), Rempel, coach Gregor Jelonek (French)

HEERENVEEN, Netherlands – Canada claimed its fourth medal today at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen, the Netherlands. Cindy Klassen, Christine Nesbitt and Brittany Schussler combined in the women’s team pursuit for a silver medal, behind the Netherlands. Nesbitt and Jamie Gregg finished fifth and ninth, respectively, after two 500-metre races.

In the women’s team pursuit, the favoured Canadians finished in three minutes and 0.51 seconds, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Netherlands’ time of 2:59.70. Dutch skaters Ireen Wust, Diane Valkenburg and Linda de Vries skated the first sub-three-minute time for women this season to win gold. Poland took the bronze medal in 3:03.32.

“We had a bit of a new strategy today and some of it wasn’t perfect, but I think we put out the strongest race that we could,” said Schussler.

Canada won the season’s World Cup women’s team pursuit title. Nesbitt, Klassen and Schussler won their three races, including the season finale. In the only race that the Canadian threesome were not together, Canada finished in seventh spot.

In the men’s pursuit, Canada finished just off the podium in fourth place in 3:44.37 – their best finish and fastest time this season. Denny Morrison, Mathieu Giroux and Lucas Makowsky represented Canada. This was Giroux’s first team pursuit race of the season, Makowksy’s second, while Morrison took part in all three World Cups races. Canada placed seventh and fifth twice.

Sven Kramer, Koen Verweij and Jan Blokhuijsen won gold for the Netherlands in a time of three minutes and 41.43 seconds. The United States took silver in 3:43.42 and Russians claimed the bronze medal in 3:43.62.

In the women’s 500 metres, Nesbitt was fourth (38.28) in the first race and seventh (38.42) in the second for a fifth place final ranking. Calgary’s Anastasia Bucsis was 15th overall after skating to 12th (38.76) and 16th (38.92) in her races. Winnipeg’s Shannon Rempel took 21st spot. She was 20th (39.25) and 21st (39.40) in the 500-metre races.

Sang-Hwa Lee of South Korea won both 500 metres to take the gold medal, followed by Jing Yu of China for silver and Thijsje Oenema of the Netherlands for bronze.

In the men’s 500 metres, Edmonton’s Jamie Gregg ranked ninth overall after two races. He was sixth in the first 500 metres crossing the finish line in 35.03 seconds and 11th (35.18) in the second race.

Competing in his first World Single Distances Championships, Laurent Dubreuil Lévis, Que., crossed the finish in 35.19 seconds for 11th place in the first 500 metres and 35.11 seconds (ninth place) in the second. The 19-year-old had a final ranking of 11th. Quebec City’s Muncef Ouardi was 15th in the overall standings with two 16th place (35.36, 35.35) finishes.

Tae-Bum Mo of South Korea was the men’s 500-metre champion. Michel Mulder of the Netherlands won the silver medal and Finland’s Pekka Koskela took the bronze.