Clara Hughes wins bronze medal at world speed skating championships

A mix-up on a crossover slowed Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., but she still earned a bronze medal in the women’s 5,000 metres on Sunday at the all around world championships in long track speed skating.

Gretha Smit, who was paired with Hughes, led the Netherlands led to a 1-2 finish in the women’s 5,000 clocking seven minutes and 02.89 seconds with Renate Groenewold second in 7:03.90 and Hughes, the defending champion in the event, third in 7:06.30.

On the fifth lap of the race, Smit and Hughes approached the crossover at almost the same time and the Canadian was forced to slow down to let the Dutchwoman through.

“Stuff like that happens,” said Hughes, also fourth on Saturday in the 3,000. “We came out of the corner at the same time and I had to wait. I did the best I could with the situation. I cost me some time but probably the placing would have been the same. But with all the troubles I’ve had this season finding my form I’m delighted to leave the worlds with a medal.”

Groenewold was also second in the 1,500 metres and took the all around title, a first in 30 years for a Dutchwoman, with 162.573 points over four races. Claudia Pechstein of Germany was second at 163.291 and Wieteke Cramer of the Netherlands third at 163.916.

Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., won the 1,500, held earlier Sunday, and was fourth all around. Hughes, also 15th in the 1,500, was 10th all around.

Kristina Groves of Ottawa placed 13th in the 1,500 and was 17th all around . Tara Risling of Medicine Hat, Alta., was 24th in the 1,500 and finished 24th all around.

Anni Friesinger of Germany, a two-time all around world champion, was the leader after three races but withdrew from the 5,000 due to fatigue. Last year’s champion Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg is out of action with a season-long injury.

In men’s competition, Chad Hedrick broke the men's world overall points record and led the United States to a 1-2 finish.

Hedrick had a four-race total of 150.478 points for the U.S.’s first overall crown since 1988. Shani Davis, the 1,500 winner, finished second with 150.726 points, and Carl Verheijen of the Netherlands, the 10,000 winner to conclude the event Sunday, was third with 151.110.

Arne Dankers of Calgary was 12th in the 1,500 and finished 15th all around and Jay Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., was 13th in the 1,500 and took 19th all around. It was a first appearance for both Dankers and Morrison at the all around worlds. Veteran Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., was 17th in the 1,500 and placed 18th all around.