Canadian women rule the pursuit & 1000m

Cindy Klassen and Brittany Schussler, both of Winnipeg, joined forces with Kristina Groves of Ottawa to win the gold medal in the women’s team pursuit on Sunday at the World Cup Finals in long track speed skating.

With their third victory this season, the Canadians took the season World Cup crown in the event.

The Canadians also get a measure of revenge after not earning a medal in the event at the Olympic Games. “Winning the World Cup is a nice revenge even though our top goal this season was to win Olympic gold,” said Schussler. “We had our best race today.”

Klassen, who replaced Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was delighted to help the team. “I was very excited to compete in the race,” said Klassen, who hasn’t raced the pursuit often over the past few seasons. “Our chemistry was great. Brittany had to push me a bit in the race, but it was enough for us to win so I’m really happy.”

In the women’s 1,000m, Nesbitt earned the World Cup season crown after a seventh place finish on Sunday. She clocked 1:17.14, finishing 0.89 seconds behind gold medallist Yekaterina Shikhova of Russia. Nesbitt, the Olympic champion, was feeling ill and wasn’t sure she would race on Sunday but gave her all to get the necessary points to claim the title.

Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was 15th in 1:18.60.

In men’s competition, Mathieu Giroux of Pointes-aux-Trembles, Que., Lucas Makowsky of Regina and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., took the silver in the men’s pursuit and finished third in the World Cup standings.

Norway defeated Canada in the race for the gold clocking 3:42.77 while the Canadians finished in 3:44.30. “Denny had just raced the 1,000m so we altered our strategy,” said Giroux. “Usually he leads more because he is our top guy. This time we kept it even.”

The Canadians were pleased with their third place finish overall but felt they could have gained a spot. “Without our eighth place finish at the World Cup here in Heerenveen earlier this season we could have finished a position higher,” added Giroux.” There was only a 44 point difference between Canada and the Netherlands. Norway took first overall.

In the 1,000m, Morrison was sixth in 1:09.67, finishing 0.78 seconds behind Shani Davis of the U.S., who completed an undefeated season at the distance.

Kyle Parrott of Minnedosa, Man., and Jamie Gregg of Edmonton, were 17th and 18th in 1:11.22 and 1:11.63.

The Canadians will remain in Heerenveen for the Allround World Championships which start on Friday.