Christine Nesbitt & Kyle Parrott Dominate the 500m Event in Richmond, B.C.

Long track speed skaters Christine Nesbitt and Kyle Parrott were the stars of Day 1 of the Fall World Cup Selections at the Richmond Oval in British Columbia, where the 500m event was held Saturday.

In women’s racing, Christine Nesbitt won both 500m events scheduled for Saturday, with times of 38.62 and 38.99. “In my first race I clocked one of my best times for that particular distance, so I’m very happy,” said Nesbitt, originally from London, Ontario. “I really worked on my technique, and I was able to transfer all my strength into my skating; I feel really good!” she enthused.

The Canadian Selections kick off the long track speed skating season, and are also the last chance for Canadian speed skaters to race at the Richmond Oval – the venue where they will skate at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. “It’s really good to have the competition here - I tried to simulate what the Olympic Winter Games might feel like.” Nesbitt explained. “I was quite nervous before the first 500m event, but I had a great time!”

Albertans Tamara Oudenarden and Anastasia Bucsis took second and third place in the women’s 500m event, clocking in at total combined times of 79.72 and 80.14, respectively.

As for the Men’s event, it was Kyle Parrott who won the first 500m race of the day in a time of 35.05; he also took fourth place in the second event with a time of 35.35. The combined times of his two races enabled him to take the overall lead. “I felt very good on the ice today.” said the Minnedosa, Alberta native. “There are such great skaters here today that I wasn’t certain of winning, but the fact that I ranked first overall is absolutely the most motivating thing to happen to me at these Selections.”

Quebec speed skater Vincent Labrie and Albertan Jamie Gregg finished second and third in the final rankings after two events thanks to their total combined times of 70.63 and 70.82, respectively.

Five men and five women could compete at the next World Cup, but only three spots are left to be filled for the women, and only two for the men, as a result of the prequalifications of the following athletes prior to the Canadian Selections: Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB), Tamara Oudenaarden (Calgary, AB), Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB), Muncef Ouardi (Montreal, QC) and Vincent Labrie (Saint-Romuald, QC).

“I felt a lot of pressure during this particular race, since my goal is to compete at this distance at the World Cup.” explained Parrott. “Nevertheless, I was able to start well in my race, which enabled me to be more relaxed during the rest of it.”

Parrott had already prequalified for the 1000m event; Christine Nesbitt already had a berth on the World Cup Team for the 1000m and 1500m events, in addition to the team pursuit event.

The Canadian Selections for the World Cup will come to a close this Tuesday. The skaters who will make up Team Canada will be announced by Speed Skating Canada’s Long Track High Performance Committee after the closing of events at the Richmond Oval.

Sunday, the women will contest the 1500m event; the men’s 1000m and 5000m events are also to take place.