Canadian medal bonanza at speed skating World Cup

INZELL, Germany –Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., and Mark Nielsen of Calgary each won gold medals on Sunday to highlight a five-medal performance for Canada at the eighth stop on the long track speed skating circuit.

Mike Ireland and Shannon Rempel, both of Winnipeg, and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., also produced podium performances at the outdoor venue.

In the men’s 500, Wotherspoon improved on his second place from Saturday taking the gold in 35.35 seconds to move into top spot in the World Cup standings. Ireland and Keiichiro Nagashima of Japan tied for second at 35.70. It was Ireland’s first medal performance this season. Morrison produced a season best fourth at the distance in 35.85.

‘’ I don’t think winning today was something I needed but I was pleased to come back with a better race,’’ said Wotherspoon. ‘’It was a big job to adjust to the ice here. It’s quite a bit different than in Calgary. There are areas in my skating that need improvement and I still have a couple of races to work on those before the world championships. My goal is always to keep improving and keep winning.’’

Vincent Labrie of St-Romuald, Que., was 13th and Nielsen 20th.

In the 500 standings after 12 of 14 races, Wotherspoon leads at 780 points with seven wins in eight races. Kang-Seok Lee of South Korea is second at 712.

In the men’s 100 sprint, Nielsen won the final in 9.55 seconds. Mika Poutala of Finland was second in 9.69. Labrie was fifth, Ireland 11th and Wotherspoon 12th.

‘’It went very well I was happy to get the victory,’’ said Nielsen. ‘’The key to success in this event is to give a maximum effort in a short period while staying relaxed.’’

In the men’s 1,000, it was the same 1-2 finish as Saturday with Shani Davis of the U.S., first in a track record 1:09.65, Morrison second in 1:09.86 and Jan Bos of the Netherlands third in 1:09.94. Wotherspoon was fourth in 1:10.72.

‘’Shani use to train in Calgary so we are developing a little rivalry,’’ said Morrison, second to Davis the 1,000 World Cup standings. ‘’I think I raced better than on Saturday. My last lap was definitely stronger. But my top end speed is definitely not there in the first lap and that’s something I’ll work on.’’

François-Olivier Roberge of St-Nicolas, Que., was 11th. Matt McLean of Winnipeg was third in the B Group race.

The women’s 1,000 had the same 1-2-3 finish as Saturday. Anni Friesinger won gold in 1:16.45, Ireen Wust of the Netherlands was second in 1:17.95 and Rempel was third in 1:18.41.

‘’Being consistent in this event is something I’ve strived for all year,’’ said Rempel. ‘’There was less wind today and that really helped. I think the training I did over the summer is really kicking in now and helping me have a strong finish to the season.’’

Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg was sixth and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer 15th. Kerry Simpson of Melville, Sask., won the B Group race

In the women’s 500, Jenny Wolf collected her 10th victory. Rempel was fourth and Wotherspoon and Kim Weger of Regina tied for 18th. Simpson and Tamara Oudenaarden of Edmonton were 1-2 in the B Group race.

In the women’s 100, Weger was fourth and Wotherspoon ninth.

The World Cup final goes this Friday to Sunday in Heerenveen, the Netherlands.