Clara Hughes fourth in 3,000 world speed skating championships

Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., finished fourth in the women’s 3,000-metre race for Canada’s best result on Saturday at the all around world championships in long track speed skating.

Renate Groenewold of the Netherlands won the gold medal clocking four minutes and 04.58 seconds. Her compatriot Gretha Smit was second in 4:05.25, Claudia Pechstein of Germany third in 4:06.52 and Hughes followed in 4:07.16.

“I’m very happy with the race,” said Hughes, who won gold in the 5,000 and bronze in the 3,000 at the all around worlds last year. “It’s been a real struggle so far to find the form that I had last season. But I felt like myself again today and I’m really motivated for the 5,000 (on Sunday). I felt my technique was good and solid. In the last two laps where it usually starts to hurt I felt like I could keep skating.”

Kristina Groves of Ottawa was 17th and Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., 22nd.

In the 500 metres, Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., won the gold medal in 38.74 with Anni Friesinger of Germany second in 38.89 and Wieteke Cramer of the Netherlands third in 39.40.

Groves was 15th, Risling 22nd and Hughes 23rd.

After two of four distances, Friesinger, a two-time all around world champion, leads with 80.150 points, Cramer is second at 80.666 and Pechstein third at 80.786. Hughes is 15th, Groves 16th and Risling 23rd. Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg won the all around world title last year but is out with a season-long injury.

In men’s competition, Chad Hedrick of the U.S., leads the overall standings after Saturday’s two races. He earned 74.559 points placing second in the 5,000 and fifth in the 500. His compatriot Shani Davis is second at 74.590 and Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands is third at 74.871.

Carl Verheijen of the Netherlands, currently fifth overall, won the 5,000 and Yevgeny Lalenkov of Russia took the 500.

Arne Dankers of Calgary, competing at his first worlds, was an impressive 10th in the 5,000 but struggled to 23rd in the 500 to stand 18th overall. Steven Elm of Calgary (14th in the 500 and 23rd in the 5,000) is 20th overall and Jay Morrison of Fort St. B.C., (17th and 24th) is 22nd.

Competition ends Sunday.