Canadian Women Team Pursuit World Champions; Men’s Team Pursuit Win Silver

Canada stood tall on the podium today, the last day of long track speed skating competitions in Inzell, Germany, with the women’s team winning the Team Pursuit World Championships title. Not to be outdone, Canada’s men’s Team Pursuit skated to a silver medal.

The women’s pursuit team comprised 1000m World Champion Christine Nesbitt (London, ON), Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB), and Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB), dominated the oval today with a blazing finish in 2:59.74. “We were all a bit nervous today since all of us have had our ups and downs in Europe over the past few weeks. We knew the Dutch skaters would go out fast, so we thought if we could skate it under three minutes, that would give us a good chance of winning. Overall, we really skated as a team today, there was a lot of good teamwork; we were all hurting but it was a great teambuilding exercise,” commented Brittany Schussler.

The women’s team pursuit podium was completed as follows: Team Netherlands skated to silver in a time of 3:00.43, while Team Germany crossed the line in 3:01.82 for the bronze medal.

Team Canada’s men – the same team who earned the gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – consisted of Denny Morrison (Fort St.John, BC), Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK), and Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC). Today the men skated to a strong silver medal finish in 3:41.85, and Mathieu Giroux offered this surprising information, “Today was actually the first time that we’ve skated together since the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games – we did some skating together this week of course, but this was the first competition, so we’re definitely happy with the result!”

Team U.S.A. crossed the line first for the victory in 3:41.72, while Team Netherlands skated to bronze in 3:43.44.

Solid Results for Canada in the 500m Events

The best finish for Canada in the women’s 500m event was from Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) who skated to twelfth place overall, with two 13 place finishes – round one in 38.95, and round two in 38.72.

Anastasia Bucsis (Calgary, AB) brings the season to a close with a 20th overall ranking, after round one’s 19th place finish in 39.32, followed by 21st place in 39.24 during round two.

The final women’s podium after two rounds was as follows: German’s Jenny Wolf for the gold medal, Korea’s Sang-Hwa Lee won the silver, and China’s Beixing Wang the bronze.

In the men’s 500m event, Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was the highest-ranking Canadian, skating to sixth place overall thanks to his fifth place in 35.00 in the first round, and his seventh place (34.96) in round two.

Vincent Labrie (Saint Romuald, QC) had two consistent performances, ranking 12th overall courtesy of an 11th place in 35.16 in round one, followed by 14th place (35.20) in round two.

Muncef Ouardi (Charlesbourg, QC) skated to 14th in the overall rankings, after round one’s time of 35.24 – good for 13th place, and round two’s time of 35.32 for 17th place.

In the overall final standings after two rounds, Korea’s Kyou-Hyuk Lee earned the gold, followed by Japans’ Joji Kato who skated to silver; the Netherlands’ Jan Smeekens stepped up to the remaining podium spot for the bronze.

Canada’s long track speed skaters will now take some well-deserved time away from the oval, but will be back stronger than ever for the 2011-2012 long track season.